The K-9 Section
 

The first dogs assigned to Phu Cat AB were the scout dogs trained by the US Army, but handed by Security Police dog handlers assigned to Safeside

In July 1966, Six Sentry Dog Teams accompanied Air Police from Phan Rang AB to secure the new base at Phu Cat AB. They set up a defense perimeter living in tents while the base was built. Additional dog teams arrived from Cam Ranh Bay AB. They provided security for the Civil Engineers Squadron (Red Horse) and a private construction company. The six dogs were staked out to trees until the kennels was built. The entire force consisted of only 54 men.

The section grew until it had approximately 45 sentry dogs (Jan 1970). The posts covered the majority of the perimeter. Most posts were located between the main line of resistance (M-60 machine gun bunkers) and the actual base perimeter. These posts were located well in front of the defensive line of machine gun bunkers. An outer fence was built with a few strands of barbed wire strung in front of bunker line. In between the machine gun bunkers were small bunkers that were for our use. However these bunkers were used by augmentee's during high threat periods. In the late 60s, the distance between these two boundaries varied in some areas from several hundred yards apart to almost a mile. In several locations, barbwire fences were also constructed between the K-9 post and the main line of resistance.

SSgt Sheffield, first NCOIC of the K9 Section and

 one of the six original sentry dogs. Photo By Bruce Pritchett

In late 1969, most of the dog posts were bulldozed clean down to bare dirt. We will probably never positively know if Agent Orange was used, but a defoliant was sprayed. However, no grass or other underbrush ever grew back. Removing all cover and concealment was not a popular move with the handlers. We were wearing camouflage fatigues but we now looked like the only bush in a sea of brown. From the air or the surrounding hills, Phu Cat AB appeared to be a big oval dirt racetrack.

The Security Police inherited the former Red Horse barracks area from the Civil Engineering Squadron that built much of Phu Cat AB. After completion of the bases, they moved onto other bases. Needless to say, we inherited probably the best lower enlisted barracks in Vietnam. Our barracks were one story while the other airmen lived in two story barracks. We were also a distance from the flight line, itís aircraft noise, and tempting targets for rockets. A old Buddhist temple and graveyard was located next to our barracks area. The kennels was located a few hundred yards away from our huts. It set near the crest of a hill, overlooking the base perimeter.

Security was dependent upon Air Police/Security Police. Weapons used were light/heavy machineguns, mortars, artillery fire support and air support.  An observation post was located on top of nearby hill manned by Air Police/Security Police. 

In early 1970, Phu Cat AB had one patrol dog team assigned.  The dog, Selig, accompanied Security Police ambush teams that set up on likely approaches to the base.  This dog was a retrained sentry dog, as were most of the early patrol dogs.  The handler( Sgt Charles Collins) and dog had completed patrol dog training at the PACAF Dog School. Selig was very tolerant around people when he was on leash.  However, he was well known for his aggressiveness in the kennels and in attack training.  On one occasion, he escaped his kennel and caused several injuries before his handler arrived to secure him.  He was also known to attack anything in front of him on command. He once destroyed a  banana tree on command.  What we did for entertainment after parties!!

Speaking of parties, The photo below is the results of one party. The facts and the name of this "beauty" will remain unknown to protect the elderly. The face was blurred to protect everyone.  Granted this was decades before "Don't ask, Don't tell" but it is clearly in the "Don't want to know category".

Photo Above: Courtesy of Gary Swanson

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Phu Cat AB Air Base    Dogs of Phu Cat AB    Handlers of Phu Cat AB   The Base

The K-9 Section    Early Kennels    The Kennels    Buddhist Temple

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