18th MP Brigade Dog Warriors Reflect on their Vietnam Experiences

Jim Riley 212th 67-68 wrote an article about the most recent reunion. It was published in the Retired Military Police Journal. Attached is a copy of the article minus accompanying photos. I hope you all enjoy. Thank you Jim for writing about us.
Sharing Memories l8th MP Brigade Dog Warriors Reflect on their Vietnam Experience
Colonel Jim Riley, USA Retired Bryan, Texas
Having recently returned from a Vietnam Military Police Sentry Dog reunion in San Antonio, Texas one was reminded that 50 years have passed since our “Dog Days”. While it was great to renew acquaintances with our fellow brothers in arms, it was at the same, sad to hear how many have gone on to their final resting place.
During my tour in Vietnam, I had the unique opportunity to spend six months with the 212th MP Company (SD) and experience the special bond between sentry dog handlers that was contagious then and continues to this day. Vietnam era company rosters of the 212th & 981st sentry dog units reflect a long list of career Military Police officers who also spent a “snapshot” of their service with our four legged friends. Those who did share a great respect and admiration for our brave young dog handlers who willing put themselves in harm’s way on isolated jungle perimeters armed only with their basic weapon and their “buddy”.
Most of the reunion veterans did their dog trainings at Fort Carson, Colorado or in Okinawa. Today, the executive agent for the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program is the United States Air Force. Lackland AFB, TX in San Antonio manages the tasking of 1.,394 Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marine Corp’s Military Working Dogs worldwide. Lackland is also the home of the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument with an inscription that reads: “Dedicated to all U.S. Military Working Dog Handlers and their beloved dogs who defend America from harm, defeat the enemy, and save lives”. The design incorporates the history of the war dog program from World War II to the wars on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. A visit to the memorial was the highlight of the reunion.
In Vietnam our 18th MP Brigade “Dog Warriors” served honorably and with great valor. Some went on to amazing careers such as SP l4 Bill Bratton (former Police Chief in Los Angeles and Police Commissioner in both Boston and New York) and Ernie Ayala, a national vice president of the Vietnam Dog Handler Association. Others returned home, got married, and resumed their daily lives. But on a recent warm spring day in Texas, those that could, gathered to share special memories, exchange old photos and remember those who are no longer with us.
Proclaiming March 13 as National K9 Veterans’ Day was meant to honor all military and working dogs for their service and sacrifice for our nation. It was only fitting that our 18th MP Brigade Military Police Vietnam Dog Warrior veterans had a chance to celebrate this special day with their former comrades in arms.