1969 Phu Cat Re-Visited
I never really wanted to write a military novel.
But I did want to tell a blue-collar story of boys becoming grown men as the passed-through the military machine onto the rest of their lives. So I kept things loose as a goose, for the book. But, starting out, I was writing the script for the "Noble Canine", movie. No intentions of writing Military History. But one faithful weekend at a Writers conference at the University of North Florida, the Chair for the Conference advised me to write the book first, makes it easier to sale the movie rights. I wrote the book first and even though the book is factual, it is by right of passage, loosely based of many, many facts.
On pages 59-61 of "Noble Canine" I addressed for the first time when I considered the movie version of our Sentry Dog School training. I was only a few years removed from the glut of war movies of WWII and I enjoyed the training flicks the best. I loved the marching, close order drills we experienced in our High School Marching Band. I joined the Air Force in June of 1968 only a few years removed from marching at football games. I marched in 50 plus footballs games and many parades. So by the time Duke and I completed our demo on graduation day, I knew without a doubt that a War Dog Movie would be a hit and the close order drilling we did in dog school would be the cement to hold the movie together.
I still had Vietnam to experience.
Leaving Lackland AFB for Phu Cat AFB wasn't that big a deal. Barracks are barracks, chow hall is a mess hall, but the base exchange in Vietnam was very different then the BX at Lackland.
( If anybody got 'ahead' from this war it had to be Japan. Think for a minute, maybe the Japanese Emperor had Kennedy shot, you know, to keep the war going long enough so Japan could pay off its war debts, and let America troops pay the bill. Isn't war special??!)
On the other hand, when the lights went out and sixty-two dog teams were loosed each night, oh my god,,, I've entered the Twilight Zone. I had no idea my job as handler was this important, and so cheap. The cost of training dogs and handlers for the Sentry Dog program could be covered in the cost of a single F-4 Phantom, are one B-52.
Hell yes, K9 were expendable and the best protection available for humans and their flying machine.
From somewhere, I came to an understanding that what I do this first night of duty and every night until I leave Vietnam will be the same, night after night. So as the nights began to melt away, in my mind I was already creating scenes. It was not hard to do. As I lived the life of a Sentry Dog Handler, working a German Shepherd for ten-hours each and every night, it began to be my mission to tell this story. I could not let this story of dog and handler encounters, just disappear. Die with the war? Believe me, if not for writing this book, this story would never be told. Never be heard
On top of that, over four thousand German Shepherd, highly trained dogs where put down at the end of the war. Those death must never be removed from history, never forgotten. A big reason why the movie must be created is to remember wasted death.
My Father-In-Law was one of the very last soldiers to train on horse back.
As the Army went from grain to gas and diesel, or from horses to gas and diesel to move the Army, they also put down tens of thousands of horse-flesh. Again, why is government and military so wasteful, so into killing? The easy way is not the best or humane way to treat AnimalKind. Why the waste, Uncle Sam?