News from the Sandbox
Page 6


The reply from our troops to Senator  Kerry's 
in reference to his "stupid" comment.

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SOUTHERN IRAQ -- Doran, a 4-year-old explosive patrol dog, searches civilian vehicles at a remote location as his handler, Staff Sgt. Gregory Long, directs him to potential hiding spots. They are assigned to the 407th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Ali Base. (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Lek Mateo)

Military working dogs:
More than man’s best friend

by Army Master Sgt. Lek Mateo 56th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

7/12/2005 - ALI BASE, Iraq (AFPN) --  Dogs are known as man’s best friend, but to Airmen and Soldiers here, military working dogs are considered a four-legged partner in the war against terrorism.

Security forces Airmen and Soldiers, along with their military working dogs, have partnered together to provide force protection on this sprawling Air Base that is home to thousands of coalition service members and civilians.

In the eyes of the Air Force, the dogs are considered valuable property, like an F-16 Fighting Falcon, said Tech. Sgt. Terri Frye, 407th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron’s kennel master who is deployed from Hurlburt Field, Fla. But to her and many of the handlers she works with, their dogs are much more than that. Although the handlers understand that the dogs are Air Force property, they cannot help but become attached to their dogs after years of working with them side by side, she said.

“Your dog is your best friend,” Sergeant Frye said. “And you will always remember the dogs that you have worked with.”

Staff Sgt. Gregory Long, a dog handler here deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, said he has always been around dogs, having grown up on a cattle farm.

Part of the job for Sergeant Long and his 4-year-old German shepherd explosive patrol dog, Doran, is to search vehicles that come onto base.

Although some searches net contraband, Sergeant Long said their mere presence also provides a deterrent to bad guys, especially when they see Doran’s sharp fangs. He compared Doran’s teeth to 42 bullets that can exert 350 to 400 pounds of pressure per square inch in a bite -- enough to break a man’s arm. Nevertheless, the two share a close bond.

“Doran is my partner,” Sergeant Long said. “He looks out for me, and I look out for him, and he is a partner that I would trust my life to.”

Here, Sergeant Long has also struck up a partnership with his Army counterparts.

Army Staff Sgt. James Demaree said he thinks it is a good idea to have joint patrols with the Air Force not only because they foster a good working relationship, but also, and more importantly, because the job they perform benefits everyone here.

“The Air Force security forces and their dogs provide a service that helps us ensure that we can have a better level of force protection for our Soldiers and Airmen based here,” Sergeant Demaree said.

The natural instincts a dog possesses contribute tremendously to their arsenal for deterring attacks, Sergeant Demaree said.

“The dog is definitely an important asset,” he said. “He has keen senses like his smell and hearing that are well beyond ours and that definitely make him a combat multiplier.”

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Military working dog
 aerovaced after operation, hospitalization

by 1st Lt. Kelley Jeter
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/23/2004 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Staff Sgt. Tim Cox and military working dog, Ronny, have been partners for more than two years, so when the canine cop fell ill on the job recently, Sergeant Cox instantly recognized a problem.

“He just had a complete change of attitude,” Sergeant Cox said. “He got very lethargic and wasn’t himself at all.”

Ronny’s change in behavior was a red flag that he needed immediate medical attention, and he was taken to a veterinary facility in a city near a forward-deployed location. The veterinarian discovered Ronny had a relatively common malady for large-breed dogs called pericardial effusion. It is an unnatural collection of fluid around his heart that began interfering with the heart’s functioning. He was immediately operated on.

“He was put into the equivalent of doggie ICU for three days,” said Maj. David Blocker, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group’s aerospace medicine chief.

Ronny’s heartbeat was irregular for two days after the emergency procedure, which drained the excess fluid off his heart. He was hooked up to a heart monitor, put on oxygen and closely observed until he was out of the danger zone.

Army Capt. (Dr.) Todd Bell, a veterinarian assigned to Navy Central Command headquarters, was summoned to assess Ronny’s condition and assist in a medical evacuation if needed.

“This condition will often resurface six to eight weeks after the initial episode,” Dr. Bell said.

The possibility of Ronny getting sick again cemented the decision to send him to Germany, where he could get a specialty evaluation and maybe a special surgery to permanently fix the condition.

Major Blocker has arranged plenty of aeromedical evacuations for people, but said this was his first experience with moving a sick dog. The aerovac system requires frequent stops and medical re-evaluation to guarantee that people will have the medical care they need available in flight and at every step along the way.

“People may often go home for medical reasons, but not all of them need medical care en route,” he said.

Many can be sent home commercially or on a military rotator and will usually make it home anywhere from five to seven days sooner than if they are locked into the aerovac system.

Unlike people, medics have very few options with regard to moving sick dogs. Ronny needed the constant presence of health-care professionals and a trained eye to watch his condition, should it change; that made aerovac the ideal choice. Military working dogs like Ronny are considered to be active-duty servicemembers eligible for aerovac.

To get him safely to Germany for further triage, Ronny was escorted by Dr. Bell and Sergeant Cox on a special aerovac flight Aug. 22. From there, they will decide whether to treat him in Germany, or to send him home to Texas to get treated.

Sergeant Cox and Ronny are both deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, but the treatment facility for military working dogs is at Lackland AFB, Texas. They were assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron here, where Sergeant Cox and Ronny worked at the vehicle search area checking incoming vehicles for explosives.

Military working dogs’ training can run anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 before they are ready to work. Training them to sniff out drugs or explosives, and teaching them to attack on command helps keep service members and assets safe from outside threats.

After Ronny’s evaluation and possible surgery, he will have about 30 days to recover, and he will be back home and working at the job he has been trained to do.


SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Staff Sgt. Timothy Cox carries his military working dog, Ronny, to a C-130 Hercules on Aug. 22, 2004 for an aeromedical evacuation to Germany. Ronny was diagnosed with pericardial effusion, an unnatural collection of fluid around his heart that began interfering with the heart's functioning. Sergeant Cox and Ronny are assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at a forward-deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lee Tucker) 

(Story re-printed courtesy of AFNEWS - Air Force Print News )





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