Where did you serve and what did you do?
34th IPSD (Infantry Platoon Scout Dog), 3rd Bde, 1st Cav, Bien Hoa RVN, 1972. I was a Scout/Patrol Dog Handler.
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
Prince, my war dog in Vietnam was more than a lifeline for me, he never stopped serving, despite my own failings, he served on. My last day in Nam is one I think of most of the time and the last face I saw in Vietnam was his. I wrote the following for him on the 43rd anniversary of that day.
43 years and a wake-up ago…
…the overarching bellow of white noise slowly abated. There was no other sensation for a few moments. It seemed an age. I heard the soft but hurried footpads of your approach. I felt your paw on my chest; heard the anxious soft whine on each intake of your breath. I felt the liquid sensation of your tongue on my cheek. I opened my eyes. I saw your face…I was alive.
I now think that from my first moment in-country I was destined to be with you, boy. I had a desperate need for a companion and a guardian and you had to be him. I finally understood what was meant back at Fort Benning when they spoke of “bonding”.
From our first duty at the PX supply yard to the Air Force Bomb depot, to sapper sweeps outside the wire, you never failed to keep me safe. You never allowed harm to come between us, always leading, ever protecting. My demise was my own doing and, yet you still saved me.
As fierce a guardian as you were, you were still my big old cuddly Prince who loved to frolic and would belly crawl a mile to play with or comfort a child. Your tenacity through the terrible, horrible carnage of the battlefield saved two little ones, despite our best efforts to close our eyes. By saving them, you once again saved me. We lived the mission to its fullest and protected the innocent; not through my intrepid determination, but through yours.
As my spirit faded with the realization of the futility of our efforts understanding that we would, in the end, turn away from these people, you served on and reminded me always of our duty, honor, and service. A better soldier I never met. A better friend? Only in my dreams, as we play Frisbee on a free open field surrounded by throngs of laughing children.
43 years and a wake-up ago, I opened my eyes, I saw your face, for the last time…Good boy!
I volunteer with a couple of organizations. The Vietnam Dog Handler association – I am the BX manager. The Military Working Dog Team Support Association, and the Military Working Dog Heritage Museum – dedicated to the preservation of the memory of the continuing efforts of the USA’s K9 teams constantly in harm’s way.
Why do you do it?
I do it because I can’t NOT do it. Today, my dogs are pets who are just as devoted to keeping me grounded and alive as Prince was. The photo collection of my time in Nam was lost along with most of my memorabilia during the two-week marathon of hospitals and psych wards I stayed in on the way home. The attached photo is the only known image of my Prince. A headshot was taken with my buddy’s polaroid. I mailed it to my mother. She did a pencil sketch. This is a photo I took of the pencil sketch.