Stories From The Southern Star
U-Tapao Base Newspaper

Sentry Dog Teams to Supplement Security Here: March 29, 1968)

Fifteen highly trained sentry dog teams arrived at U-Tapao early Sunday morning to supplement the 635th  Security Police Squadron in the work of security on the base. The handler-dog teams here, were obtained from various bases in the United States, gathered at Lackland AFB, Texas, and flown to Thailand by the C-141 Starlifter.

TSgt Thomas W. Swartz, NCOIC of the local contingent, explained, “The first week or so here will be spent mostly for adaptation. Some of these dogs have come from very cold climates and must get used to the heat. We’ll spend most of the time grooming the dogs and giving them light exercise. Of course, it will take a little time for the handlers to get acclimatized too” he chortled.

All of the dogs assigned here are German Shepherds, specially chosen for their intelligence, size, strength, alertness, fearlessness, agility, the unique ability to detect intruders at a great distance and adaptability to varying climates.

At present, no definite assignments have been determined for the sentry dog teams. “After we get them settled down and gin in a few days of training, we’ll go where we are needed.” Sergeant Swartz explained. After initial entry into Vietnam on a trial basis, the program proved to be such a success, that a force of more than 500 are now on duty there. At present, similar teams to the one at U-Tapao are located at Udorn, Nakhon Phanom, Ubon, Takhli and Karot.

Each handler is assigned his own dog and they work as a team throughout the training period and on the job afterwards. Both vocal commands and hand signals are used by the handler to guide the dog’s actions.

Sergeant Swartz mentioned, “A trained sentry dog can be compared to a dangerous weapon and must be handled and considered as such. Aggressiveness is trained into them. After all, a friendly sentry dog would not be of much value, would he?” 

Two aspects of the Sentry Dog - A1C Carl A. Newcombe, a handler with the local contingent of sentry dog teams, demonstrates the moods of his dog “Ted”. Ted leans into his handler with real affection but can become a most aggressive when commanded. (USAF Photos by A1C Dave Munday)

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U-Tapao Air Field Records Unique First,
Five Puppies Arrive At Sentry Dog Unit - May 3, 1968)

Lita, a 68 pound German Shepard, made history at U-Tapao Air Field on April 25 when she gave birth to a litter of five pure black puppies. Lita is in the United States Air Force Sentry Dog program and motherhood is not condoned in this service. A special concession was made in Lita’s case, however, since she was procured for the specific purpose that she just fulfilled.

When the first shipment of Sentry Dogs arrived in Thailand a month ago, she was among five that were procured for the Thai Sentry Dog program. Instead of starting with full grown dogs, they plan to start with breeding stock and build a corps of dogs over a period of years. However, when they arrived, facilities were not yet finished to house and care for them. The Thai government requested that they be kept under USAF control until such time as these facilities could be completed.

“I’ve been working with dogs in the Air Force for more than 15 years and this situation has never come up”, said TSgt Thomas Swartz, NCOIC of the local dog kennel.

“And, it probably never will again since in a short time these females will be turned over to the Thais and leave Air Force control.” Sergeant Swartz and Major Charles G. Anderson, Base veterinarian, were in attendance when Lita started delivering her puppies at 9:45 a.m. By 12:30 the job was done, “Of course, she gave us a little scare with labor pains about two days earlier” Major Anderson said. “But, it turned out to be a false alarm.”

Registered with the American Kennel Club as “Von Nassay’s Araby”, Lita has an official Air Force designation as 9M71 and came into the sentry dog program from Washington. Since she was procured for breeding, she has had no formal sentry dog training. She will eventually be trained by Thai handlers when their school opens at Korat AB later on.

“Good work, huh Boss?” - Lita admires handiwork being held by TSgt Thomas Swartz, NCOIC of the local sentry dog detachment. They were born April 25. (USAF Photos by Sgt John Olsen)

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Support Group Units Select K-9 Handler As Best Airman - January 15, 1969)

A sentry dog handler here has been named 635th Combat Support Group/Associate Units Airman of the Month for December. A1C Frederick W. Woodard, 635th Security Police Squadron, was selected top airman because of his superior job knowledge, military attitude and general military bearing.

He was chosen over his contemporaries by a board of senior noncommissioned officers that represented al 635th CSG/Associate Units. Airman Woodard, from Houston, Texas, has been assigned to the Base Sentry Dog Section since March 21, 1968. He has since been reassigned to Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam. The 20-year-old airman stated that this was the first time he had been selected a base airman of the month.

“It really highlighted my tour here, my first in Southeast Asia,” Airman Woodard said. The airman, who pulled night patrol while at U-Tapao, said any success he had here was due to his canine partner, Navigator. “I only whish there was something I could give him for making me look so good,” he said. The sentry dog handler was assigned at Clinton-Sherman AFB, Oklahoma, prior to his assignment here.

For winning the AOM title, Airman Woodard received a $25 United States Savings Bond. He was also scheduled to receive a free trip to Bangkok and an excusal from all squadron details for two months. “I’ll substitute my 30-day leave back home for the latter, “ he grinned. Airman Woodard was lauded by Col. Leonard S. Dysinger, 635th CSG commander, upon his AOM selection. The colonel, in his letter of commendation, praised the security policeman for his “outstanding devotion to duty.”

After joining the Air Force in 1967, he completed basis training, Air Police, Combat and Sentry Dog Schools at Lackland AFB, Texas.

Top Airman - A1C Frederick W. Woodard puts his partner, Navigator, through a daily training drill here. Airman Woodard, a sentry dog handler with the 635th Security Police Squadron, must have done a good job at U-Tapao. The airman, recently assigned to Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam, was selected December Airman of the Month for the 635th Combat Support Group/Associate Units.

(USAF Photo by Sgt Richard H. Berger)






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