From an early age I knew I wanted to be a police officer. Since I was too young to qualify for police work in the civilian world, I enlisted into the United States Air Force in December 1974 under the Delayed Enlistment - Guaranteed Job Program as a Law Enforcement Specialist. In early 1975 I reported to Lackland AFB, Texas for Basic Training and upon completing Basic Training was assigned to the USAF Security Police Academy. During the academy, I volunteered for and was accepted into the USAF Military Working Dog (MWD) Program.
In June 1975, I completed the Security Police Academy and remained at Lackland, assigned to the USAF/DoD Dog School to start training as a USAF Patrol Dog Handler. During this 12 week course I was assigned to MWD Lucky. I was told Lucky was one of the few dogs to see service in Vietnam and be returned to the states. Lucky was reportedly injured during his Southeast Asia tour, but was found to be fit for training purposes. To my benefit, Lucky was great at his job.... his skills earned me the distinction of being the Class Honor Graduate. I completed Patrol Dog School in September 1975.
Having orders for Thailand, I remained at Lackland to complete the USAF Security Police Airbase Ground Defense Course. During this training, my orders to Thailand were 'red-lined" and I was instructed to report to Chanute AFB, Illinois as a Law Enforcement Specialist / Military Working Dog Handler.
In November 1975 I arrived at Chanute and reported for duty. I was assigned to MWD Alexander. "Alex" was trained as a Patrol Dog. He was big, roughly 105 lbs., with a bite like an alligator. Our responsibilities included patrolling the base housing areas, dormitory areas and an area similar to a mall. The "Mall" had various clubs, theaters, a bank, the Base Exchange and the Commissary. Our duties included providing escorts for the bank personnel, crowd control and other "police" related functions.
In March 1976, I was reassigned to MWD Ulysses. Ulysses was dual certified as a Patrol Dog and Narcotic Detector Dog. He was trained to detect the odors of marijuana, hashish, heroin, morphine and similar Opioids. Since Ulysses was already trained, I needed to complete the handler training. During April 1976, Ulysses and I traveled to Lackland to attend the USAF/DoD Patrol / Drug Detector Dog School. During this 9 week program, Ulysses refined his skills and I was taught how to understand his "alerts" and provide proficiency training. In June, we completed our training and returned to Chanute.
In addition to our regular "police" responsibilities and duties, Ulysses and I also performed numerous drug searches. Our role was to support the various Squadron Commanders, the OSI Detachment, plus the Security Police Investigations team with narcotic searches in barracks and classroom areas. We also performed random searches of vehicles entering the base, as well as those parked around the base facilities. Once again, I was fortunate to be assigned to a dog who loved his job, during our time together, Ulysses made several significant "finds" and participated in numerous public relations and recruiting events. As a result of his efforts and devotion, I was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal.
During the Spring of 1977, I received orders for Kwang Ju Airbase, Republic of Korea. In June 1977, I reported for duty and was assigned to Patrol / Drug Detector Dog Chico. During our time together, Chico and I participated in various alerts and exercises, including Operation Team Spirit. In addition to our normal duties of providing security for the base and the various security sensitive areas, Chico and I performed Custom Inspections on all in-bound and out-bound aircraft, crews, passengers and cargo. We also conducted searches of barracks and work areas for hidden drugs and narcotics. Chico and I received the award of Outstanding Drug Detector Dog Team, ROK and were runner-ups for the Republic of Korea - US Army Provost Marshal Award. Additionally, I was promoted Below-the-Zone to E-4 Senior Airman.
In June 1978 I returned to the United States and was assigned to the Security Police Squadron at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. My assignment was NCOIC of the Military Working Dog Section. In this role I was responsible for the supervision and training of 6 Military Working Dog Teams. The teams included a two Patrol/Explosive Detector Dogs, two Patrol/Narcotic Detector Dogs and a two Patrol Dogs. Zack, the 6th and newest Patrol Dog was my direct responsibility.
In March 1979, after 4 assignments and 5 dogs in a 4 year period, I completed my Active Duty obligations as an E-4 Sergeant and was awarded an Honorable Discharge. I departed Keesler and returned to civilian life to continue my law enforcement career.