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


Photo Courtesy J W Fuller

Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base was the home of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing -"Wolfpack". Comprising the flying units of the Wolfpack were four F-4D Phantom tactical fighter squadrons. Also assigned to the wing was the 16th Special Operations Squadron, which flew the AC-130 gun ships. The 13th Bomb Squadron (B-57G's) was assigned from September 1970 until April 1972. The 13th flew mostly night interdiction missions against NV truck traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Tenant units at Ubon RTAFB included the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron flying the OV-10. The 23rd's "Rustic FAC's" fly missions supported ground forces, interdiction missions and armed convoy support. Another tenant, the 3rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group performed the vital support role of crash rescue, aircrew recovery and evacuation missions. The 222nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Royal Thai Air Force, performed  their mission with T-28, C-47 and HH-34 aircraft.

Above from USAF History in Thailand 

Thailand was often considered a "safer" location in the Vietnam war than the bases located in South Vietnam. But this was not true. Sapper attacks took place at Ubon, RTAFB in July of 1969 and January of 1970. During the attacks two handlers were wounded, one dog was killed in action, and two dogs wounded.

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Printed AF Times - 24 April 1968

Ubon RTAFB - Dogs have joined the Wolf Pack. The first AF sentry dogs to be used in Thailand arrived at this base recently.

Assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (Wolf Pack), the 20 sentry dogs and their handlers arrived in near 100 degree weather aboard a C-141. On their arrival, the canines were taken from their massive metal shipping crates and walked around their new homes by their handlers.

A temporary kennel and training area has been constructed on the base to house the sentry dogs until new kennels are completed this summer. Although the handlers are on the base for one year tours, the canines will remain at Ubon and will be retrained with new handlers when their present masters are transferred to new assignments.

The sentry dogs, all German shepherds, are purchased from kennels or private individuals in the states. The dogs and their trainers received their initial training at the eight week Sentry Dog School, Lackland AFB, Texas.

According to TSgt James E Langley, NCOIC of the Sentry Dog Section, the animals will not be used until they become accustomed to the humid climate at Ubon. During this period, the dogs and their handlers will continue their normal, daily training programs.

Thai lei is placed around the neck of Rinny at Ubon RTAFB by his handler Kenneth Neal, as a traditional from of welcome. Rinny is one of the first 20 sentry  dogs to arrive in Thailand. They will serve with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. 

Courtesy of Niklaas Waller, 
TSgt USAF Historian,
 8th Fighter Wing 

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Kelly Bateman     Mike Potter     Rick Matott   

Pete Williams      Capt “Doc” Daniel Lawer, DVM

 Jim Watson  (8TH SPS K-9 Unit Director VDHA)

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