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The Times they are Changing 02-26-2019

1969 Phu Cat Re-Visited

Tonight was my first night working Junior.

I was thrilled, shit-less! Finally I felt safe in the dark. That's just a little hint of how important the designation MWD is. I lucked out and Sergeant Collins, (Rev.) is on the post next to me.

Not camera shy, is he? This is Junior. War Hero from the night of Feb 22. My first ground attack. He covered his Noble Handler with his body. A call went out from Medics to shoot the dog before the handler bleeds out. Sergeant Frences save the night and got Junior secured and mounted up for the trip to the kennels. Junior, this Noble Canine weighs near 100lbs of polite meaness.

Later in the night, the coffee-truck had come and gone and we where back together on his post after clearing both Kilo 21 and Kilo 22, and we settled in for the rest of the night. We still had four hours until first shift was pulled out. So I still had six hours of duty to walk and secure.

The weather was clear as a bell, puffy clouds moving quickly across a deeply-dark night sky loaded with every star that had ever been created. On post the brighter the star-light, combined with a golden moon, the deeper the shadows where. This was a time that to much light made you as nervous as no light. But tonight, the steady hot winds coming from the coast, where , cooling? Well sort-of, but tonight,

the mosquitoes where held flat on the ground,

buy just enough wind. This wind was a blessing and we open our vests and shirts to let this gentle wind suck the heat from our bodies. With the breeze in our face, and especially in our Noble Canine noses, we got comfortable, we got good and settled, but always on duty. Watered our beast, and broke out some rations and opened a can of pineapple slices and mixed it with the pound cake, oh my gosh! the sugar rush!


This is how easy you can find contentment in simple things. We did that lot in Vietnam.


Most of the time a handler and his K9 worked alone. Never visited with his neighbor, didn't show up for the coffee-truck, just flat disappeared onto his post, night after night. I spent most nights alone, and it never really bothered me. I felt in control of this patch of ground, it's my patch, don't fuck with me!


When every-night is absorbed, with blending into different terrain, or no terrain, you become chameleon-like.
This is AIC Thomas Mahoney, one of the original nine handlers. If our Sentry Dogs could talk what a tale they could tell. I'm hoping handlers will share stories about their K9's. Also, I hoping to hear from the other eight men from our group, as they find out that the world knows them.

You find the best spot and disappear into the darkest shadow you can find. Setting on a bucket for hours, night after night, creates patients and you quickly learn how to be silent. We learned the trick of disappearing into the darkness and stillness with silence was a dear companion all those long lonely nights ago, but life got easier as I became more like a cat, stalking, silent-stillness with uncommon, for me, patience. It was a incredible equalizer. Just doing what Charlie did nightly, out in front of our posts.

I can still sneak up on my wife, in my old age but not as quickly or silently.


Junior made walking, or the art of staying on your feet, easier, how, he took the god-damn point! Praise the Lord.


A little insight into my Noble Canine, Junior, and the rest of the story. When you read my book, Noble Canine you will be introduced to the 'Circle Jerk' a time honored tradition of the New Air Force. Not really, just can't see the ladies in a circle, jerking dogs off. But in 1968, we did!

So, on this my first night working a real MWD, he is expressing desires I've had no intentions of re-visiting again. He came up behind me, mounted me and stared to hump. I laughed my ass off, told Junior to heal and to set, and he never took those soft brown eyes off me. He spent the rest of the night looking at me strangely.


I can hear his thinking;

'What do you mean, no more hand-job's?!',

and his eyes crossed, and Junior finally turned his nose into the wind, and went back to work.


I'm setting and staring down the ears, to the center of his nose, and totally focused on the many ear movements I'm seeing. I remember seeing hunting dogs gyrating in the wind, but when they locked in on the scent, they didn't lose it. These German Shepherds where like that.

A Sentry Dog Handler will tell right off 'what is wrong with this picture'?! No muzzles. At the Cat we worked sixty-two dog teams nightly. Most Kilo post covered the 10,000 foot long runway. Believe me, when you see a Sentry Dog without a muzzle on, a big warning flag, should go off in your head. When a Sentry Dogs leaves his kennel, he is dressed in a muzzle and a choke chain, both used to control the dog. A highly trained Sentry Dog is not a pet, and never will be a pet, except, with the right handler.


So for the rest of the story; next night, was one of those nights I didn't have anybody on either side I wanted to share the evening with, so me and Junior where alone together and it was late in the night, when I'm at my weakest! Junior jumps me again, from behind, his MO, and I couldn't understand why he chose to disregard my instructions from last night,

"Sorry Junior, but there will be no hanky-panky."

So with that, I pulled him from behind me, dragged him to face me man to dog, and I punched Junior right between the eyes. Again, he just kept looking at me, not saying or doing anything, just a broken hearted Noble Canine who had to face facts, no more hand-jobs. These two nights never happened again in the 10 months I had left in-country. Junior was a quick learner, also.


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