Nemo was whelped in October
1962. He was procured by the Air Force
when he was one and a half years old. After completing an 8-week training
course, he was assigned to Fairchild AFB, Washing, for duty with the Strategic
Air Command. In January 1966, Nemo and his handler Airman Leonard Bryant, Jr.,
were transferred to the Republic of South Vietnam with a large group of other
sentry dog teams. Airman Robert A. Thorneburg was assigned as Nemo's handler in July
In the predawn hours of 4 December 1966, Tan Son Nhut AB Air
Base was attacked by a large force of Viet Cong commando raiders who used a
single avenue of approach through friendly force positions outside the base
perimeter. Once inside the base, the raiders divided into small groups to attack
their targets. Several sentry dog teams stationed on preventive perimeter posts
gave the initial alert and warning almost simultaneously. As a result of this
early warning, security forces of the 377th Air Police Squadron
successfully repelled the attack, minimizing damage to aircraft and facilities.
Although wounded, one dog handler maintained contact with the enemy and notified
Central Security Control of their location and direction of travel. Two security
policemen in a machine gun bunker were ready and waiting as the VC approached
the main aircraft parking ramp. In a few seconds they stopped the enemy, killing
all thirteen of the attackers. Security forces rapidly deployed around the
perimeter and prevented numerous infiltrators from escaping, forcing them to
hide in a Vietnamese graveyard, dense vegetation and wells. Search patrols
believed that all remaining VC were killed or captured the following morning.
Unfortunately, supervisors did not include dog teams in those daylight patrols,
so just before total darkness when Airman Thorneburg and Nemo were posted, Nemo
alerted and was released to attack the VC who had evaded earlier detection. Both
handler and dog were wounded, but not before killing at least one VC. Nemo's
injuries included the loss of one eye. A sweep of the area by the Quick Reaction
Team met with negative results. Using additional sentry dog teams, the security
forces located and killed four more VC. A second sweep with the dog teams
resulted in discovery of four more VC who were hiding underground. They too were
Nemo was credited with saving his handler's life and
preventing further destruction of life and property. On 23 June 1967,
Headquarters, USAF, directed that Nemo be returned to the United States as the
first sentry dog officially retired from active service. His permanent
retirement kennel is located at the Department of Defense Dog Center, Lackland
AFB, Texas. He is frequently taken on tours in the United States to assist the
procurement of military working dogs.
Excerpt from Air Force Manual 125-5, Volume II, dated
1972. Nemo died from natural causes at
the Lackland AFB, Texas on March 15, 1973.
Photo Above Courtesy of
Nemo's War Dog Heroes Memorial.
- Photo Above: Nemo and Handler Sgt Michael
DeForest, US Army assigned to DOD Dog
Center (Detachment 37), Lackland AFB, Texas Photo Courtesy of
Brian Rueger (Retired MSgt USAF).
- Nemo died from natural causes in December 1972