VSPA K-9 Sections
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.
Above Published in AF Times
“From the coming of the first sentry dog teams in July 1965 until 4 December 1966, no known penetrations took place in areas patrolled by dogs. But on the 4th of December, sappers aided by good weather and the terrain slipped through a sentry dog post at Tan Son Nhut. The infiltrators were spotted when they tried to penetrate a second (backup) post. The alarm voiced by the handler at the second post alerted the air base, triggering a defense force counterattack that staved off major damage and wiped out the enemy raiding party. During the fighting, sentry dog forces in South Vietnam sustained their first casualties: one handler and three sentry dogs killed, two handlers and one sentry dog wounded. In the ensuing years of the war, the sentry dogs saw no combat of this size. Nevertheless, they quietly showed their value as sturdy, versatile, detection devices. Their worth sparkled at Binh Thuy, Phu Cat, Pleiku, and Phan Rang where again and again they gave warning of enemy probes and penetrations. The last, sentry dog to be killed in the war fell during the 29 January 1969 attack on Phan Rang Airbase.”
By Roger P. Fox
OFFICE OF AIR FORCE HISTORY UNITED STATES AIR FORCE WASHINGTON, D.C., 1979
The author, Lt. Col. Roger P. Fox, USAF (Ret.), wrote this volume while assigned to the Office of Air Force History. He brings judgments to his research based on his personal experience as a base security officer during the conflict. Thus, early on the morning of 4 December 1966, he rallied Air Force and South Vietnamese security forces to repel an enemy attempt to penetrate Tan Son Nhut Air Base, the center of Air Force operations in South Vietnam. For his gallantry in action on this occasion, he was awarded the Silver Star.
Military Dog History
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History of Vietnam
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Photos Above: Safe Conduct Passes, Courtesy of Bruce Pritchett