Arrival At NKP
by David VanHoogstrate

October 1970, I was 19 when I boarded the C-130 which was to take me from Clark, AB my new base, Nakhon Phanom, affectionately known as NKP Thailand. I was a new Patrol Dog Handler and about as green as you can get. Although I was very confident that I would return to my home in St. Louis all in one piece, that confidence was quickly diminished shortly after I arrived. As myself and a group of others departed the plane it was quite apparent we were in the middle of the jungle, somewhere. We boarded a bus that dropped us off at our various Squadrons. After checking in and my orders cleared, I was escorted to my new home for the next year. A wooden hooch with a tin roof and divided up into several small rooms. I was to be the fourth person in that bungalow. As I was putting my gear away. My new roommates entered the room and introduced themselves to me and as we were talking, all of a sudden, I could hear the bombs going off in the drop zone. Apparently the look of fear was on my face because as I was ready to hit the ground, my roommates started to laugh. They explained to me that the MMS (munitions maintenance squadron) was detonating unexploded bombs left in the drop zone, and wait the drop zone was. Ah! Nothing to fear!

The next day I was taken to the Kennel area to be introduced to my new partner. I was among the last of my flight to be given a dog. Therefore the last dog left was going to be mine no matter what. Before I entered the kennels I was told about Smokey ( # unknown ) and how he hasn't been out of the kennel in 6 months, how mean he was, and how dangerous he could be. Well, that did leave a bit of anxiety on my part. So I took with me a choke chain & a leash, I kept the leash in my back pocket and the choke chain tightly clasped in my right hand. I entered the kennel area, all the dogs started barking as I slowly walked to the end of the kennel where this mean, lean, biting machine was kept. Smokey was beautiful but he was barking & growling so fiercely that he had slavered all over his self, making him look even more ferocious. I remembered what my dog school instructor told us back at Lackland, " Get down there & talk to that dog, You talk to him like you are hot for him, Talk cute, talk sweet, talk with confidence".  I squatted down in front of Smokey's cage and let him sniff the back of my hand, I talked to him every sweet, cute way I could, but Smokey was not going to have any part of me. Then I held up my right hand and let the choke chain fall. Immediately Smokey's attitude changed, he went from a snarling, growling vicious animal to a happy, whimpering, dog that just wanted to get out of the kennel he had been locked up in for the past 6 months. I opened the cage, and he slipped his head into the choke chain & waited anxiously as I attached the leash.

We walked out into the training area and everybody's jaw dropped to the ground. I heard people running to tell others that the FNG ( F***'n New Guy ) got Smokey out & without a muzzle. Smokey & I played and ran the obstacle course for over two hours. We had become fast friends and my confidence was regained. I never told anybody how I managed to get in on him, I just liked to keep that part my own little secret.

Unfortunately, our time together was to be short lived because in March 1971, I was transferred to Udorn. I had spent 5 months with Smokey and luckily the VC had decided to leave us alone. My only combat there was with snakes, and that is another story.

horizontal rule

Nakhon Phanom  RTAFB    Dogs of NKP   Handlers of NKP    

Arrival at NKP    F-105 Crash at NKP    NKP Memorial

NKP Perimeter   NKP, Then & Now    Visit to the Wall.

Photo Gallery 1    Photo Gallery 2     Photo Gallery 3    Photo Gallery 4



              USAF Bases in SEA & Topics of Interest  Memorial      Why dogs?  

                      MWD History   Your dog's fate!    New K-9    Chemical Exposure!   Veterinarians

                                        Adopting Dogs    Old Dawgs Supporting Young Pups    

                    Bulletin Boards:  K-9 Issues    Chemical Exposure     Free Computer Backgrounds

                         Submit stories/photos     Nemo's Story   Links of Interest   For Younger Vistors




    VSPA  is an association for USAF Vietnam War Veterans who  served  in Vietnam or Thailand from  1960-1975, as  Air Police / Security  Police or as an Augmentee.  Visit the main pages for information on joining.


      This site, its design and content are Copyright   2012-1995, of the VSPA (Vietnam Security Police Association, Inc.)

                             All Rights Reserved.                   Website Last Updated:  July 05, 2016        


Please feel free to copy photos or stories. Just give the author/photographer, & VSPA a credit line.