Takhli RTAFB
Royal Thai Air Base
 

During the Vietnam War, the defense of Air Force bases mirrored the conflict itself: There was no rear echelon once the entire country became a battlefield. Air Force 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.

Within easy reach of North Vietnamese troops, Air Force bases in Vietnam and Thailand were attacked 478 times from 1964 to 1973. One hundred and fifty-five Americans were killed and 1,702 wounded, along with 375 allied aircraft being destroyed and 1,203 damaged. In fact, more U.S. planes were lost in ground action (101) than in dogfights with MIGs (62).

Bien Hoa Air Base, located 15 miles north of Saigon, was the first U.S. air base in Vietnam to taste the damage a small, well-trained force can inflict. A hit-and-run mortar attack destroyed  five B-57 bombers and damaged 15 others. The Viet Cong, in less than five minutes, wiped out an entire squadron.    

The attack hammered home a hard message. To fight in the air, the Air Force had to be able to fight on the ground."      Above Published in AF Times

Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base is located 130 miles north north-west of Bangkok. United States Air Force personnel began arriving at Takhli in early 1961 to support a detachment of F-100 Supersabres from the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cannon AFB, N.M. The base continued to support F-100 rotational units until March 1965, when F-105 Thunderchiefs from the United States- replaced the F-100s. The base was deemed unneeded and all U.S. Air Force units left Takhli RTAFB by April 1971. 

On May 5, 1972, about 35 members of the PACAF advance party returned to prepare for the second arrival of USAF personnel & equipment. The F-4s of the 49th TFW from Holloman AFB, N.M. and the KC-135s of the 11th Air Refueling Squadron from Altus AFB, OK were deployed from the US. This was part of President Nixon's plan to protect the remaining forces in Vietnam and halt the increased communist aggression in Southeast Asia. A group of twenty dog handlers were sent TDY from Clark AB, Republic of the Philippines. Takhli was operated as a USAF resource until 1974 where it was again closed.

In 1974, the USAF turned over to the Thai military 12 dogs from U-Tapao Air Base for use at Takhli Air Base. All USAF resources had been removed (once again) from the air base. The RTAF Security Force Command assigned 2nd LT. Uthai Munyanon and 2nd LT. Sommai Theampracha to supervise the transition and training of Thai handlers. The dogs were older than the usual military working dog, averaging 10 years old. Dogs that have been identified are: Duck, Frank, Fred, Duke, Fritz, Mike, Ford and Troy.

The Security Battalion selected 5 Sergeants and 7 Airmen to become dog handlers. They were trained for three months and were well received as an additional means of providing security for the Thai Air Force base (Takhli). The RTAF Security Battalion had many chance to demonstrate the performance of the K-9 teams to Royal Thai Air Force personnel. Within a few years, some of the dogs developed problems with their hips, hearing, or sight. They were all retired at about the age of 13-15 years of age. It is unknown as what type of retirement the dogs received.

 

Handler Phil Carroll and Charlie # 2M45

Contributors

Charles Brideson         Bill Cummings       Phil Carroll

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