Cam Ranh Bay AB

Republic of Vietnam

During the Vietnam War, the defense of Air Bases mirrored the conflict itself: There was no rear echelon once the entire country became a battlefield. Air Bases relatively, unaffected by ground forces in past wars, were no longer considered safe havens. They, too, suffered from costly ground assaults and mortar shelling.

Within easy reach of North Vietnamese troops, Air Bases in Vietnam and Thailand were attacked 478 times from 1964 to 1973. One hundred and fifty-five Americans were killed and 1,702 wounded, along with 375 allied aircraft being destroyed and 1,203 damaged. In fact, more U.S. planes were lost in ground action (101) than in dogfights with MIGs (62).

Bien Hoa Air Base, located 15 miles north of Saigon, was the first U.S. air base in Vietnam to taste the damage a small, well-trained force can inflict. A hit-and-run mortar attack destroyed  five B-57 bombers and damaged 15 others. The Viet Cong, in less than five minutes, wiped out an entire squadron.    

The attack hammered home a hard message. To fight in the air, the Air Force had to be able to fight on the ground."      Above Published in AF Times

483rd SPS By Steve Janeke

The 483rd Security Police Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay AB Air Base provided security for the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing and the 483rd Troop Carrier Wing (latter renamed the 483 Tactical Airlift Wing). The base was located on South Vietnams East coast, approximately 180 miles Northeast of Saigon. The base was primarily used as a cargo/airlift base. It was one of three air bases where military entered or departed the country for their 12 month tour of duty.

Of the 500 officer and airmen assigned to the squadron during my tour of duty (1970-71) about 55-60 were assigned to the K-9 Division. The division had two kennels. One kennel was for law enforcement and customs. That kennel had drug detector dogs to search baggage, mail, aircraft, and people for narcotics. The kennel also had a 135 pound dog named King that worked with air police patrols to stop bar fights and other disturbances. The majority of the dogs were in a kennel located on a small hill overlooking the runway. The hill was appropriately called K-9 Hill.

The American and allied soldiers in the field had the added fire support provided by the fighter and the fighter-bomber aircraft of the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing from 1965 to 1970. The 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing provided support from 1966 to 1972.

Air Force dog teams (Kilo Teams) might not be well known outside of Air Force circles, but these dogs and handlers were an important part of America's fighting forces in Vietnam. We have currently located over 30 handlers from the 483rd and are looking for the rest.

This article was first printed in the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association Publication “Dogman”, Volume 6, Number 1, February 1999.



Steve Janeke & Sentry Dog Kobuc X448
Steve is the VDHA Unit Director for Cam Ranh Bay AB

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