We are the members of an elite group of proud individuals, who served our country alongside the finest soldiers that have ever walked the earth on four paws. Throughout history these four legged soldiers have diligently committed themselves to protect their fellow team members. Because of their actions they have protected vital strategic areas and have saved the lives of countless servicemen and women. With the finest tradition of the Military Police Corps the sentry dog has upheld the motto: "OF THE TROOPS, FOR THE TROOPS"
Frederick “Fritz” Picken 981st 71-72 SOG at Tuy Hoa
Frederick “Fritz” Picken(1946 – 2017)
Frederick “Fritz” Picken
Frederick “Fritz” Picken born December 8, 1946 in Lansing, the son of the late Floyd Picken and Virginia Smith, passed away on March 16, 2017 at the age of 70.
Frederick served in the United States Army doing two tours during the Vietnam War and continued to serve in the Army reserve and local Lansing National Guard. He was an avid MSU sports fan. Fritz enjoyed hunting, traveling and visiting with his friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents and brother; Gerald Picken.
Surviving are his wife of 40 years, Donna Picken; Beloved dog, Rocky; brother, Robert “Bob” (Sharon Long) Picken; brother in law, David (Joan) Marx, Joseph Marx; nieces and nephews; Peter Marx, Joseph Marx Jr., Michael Marx, Nicholas Marx, Holly Pifer, Sandy Farley, Kimberly Metzger, and Jamie Van Noord.
There will be a visitation service from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes 900 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing.
In lieu of flowers the family request contributions may be made in memory of Fritz to MSU athletic Department.
DAN RICHARD CROWDER, 71, of Fort Wayne, passed away on Thursday, March 1, 2018. Surviving are his wife, Carol; daughters, Pam (David) Hagelberger, Jill Crowder and Elizabeth (Michael) Metz; son, Rick (Carmen) Crowder; eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Memorial service is from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, March 5, 2018, at Midwest Funeral Home & Cremation Society, 4602 Newaygo Road, Fort Wayne.
Midwest Funeral Home & Cremation Society 4602 Newaygo RoadFort Wayne, IN 46808 260-496-9600
Published in Fort Wayne Newspapers from Mar. 3 to Mar. 4, 2018
Remembering John Bezic, Cary Clark, Dave Hardin, Robert Legaspi, and Arnie Price
The following are capsule recollections of five now deceased members of the 981st. Each in his own way was able to make an impression on others — by his friendship, humor, energy, character, or the mere fact of his distinctive presence on the scene.
John A. Bezic, Jr.
October 16, 1949 to October 30, 2007
John was a very personable guy I became friendly with at Cam Ranh Bay. He eventually got shipped out to a detachment that I believe was Nha Trang. I remember that one day while visiting there on company business with 1SG Ralph Hamblin I started looking for John to say hello, not having seen him for a few months. I found him in the barracks seated on his bed, legs placed diagonally against bedside with both feet on floor, sci-fi paperback held up in one hand and cigarette in another, reading intently and dragging away on his smoke. It was a very familiar pose. I said nothing until he saw me out of the corner of his eye, and then I laughed. He then threw his book up in the air as if to say “OMG it’s you!” We had a lot of fun together earlier at CRB, and on this day as well. I was sorry to find out that John died in Chicago in 2007, sadly the same year as his WW II Army vet father — the old man early in June and John at the end of October. I still remember how his face would light up at a funny remark or a cheerful greeting, and I miss him.
Cary M. Clark
October 28, 1949 to May 19, 2009
Cary’s was a quiet presence in Vietnam. I knew him by sight but not well. He had the reputation of being a good guy. He seemed closest to John Duncan and they both shipped out to Ban Me Thout, where Rush Mortimer spent time with them both. In the photo of Cary you can see that his hair was dark. His ethnicity could have been Italian, Spanish, Greek, or possibly Japanese. His middle name is Michi which translated into English may mean “child of beautiful knowledge,” or “the moral path” (Japanese); a diminutive for a panther kitten (Peruvian); or a diminutive for Michael (German). It might also have been his mother’s maiden name. Or Michi might mean something entirely different or might mean nothing at all, made up purely for how it sounded to the ear. And I recall thinking his mother probably named him after the actor Cary Grant. He is remembered by those who served with him as an intelligent and caring dog handler who performed his duties well and with close attention to detail.
David Keith Hardin
October 29, 1949 to August 20, 1978
Dave, the third handler in this group to have been born in October of 1949, was a fun loving guy who among other things enjoyed palling around with Jerry Griffis. Big Jerry and shortish Dave were a common sight together in Cam Ranh Bay, before both were shipped out to various detachments. They had together a great sense of humor and played off each other deliberately for laughs. Fun to watch and listen to — Jerry from Texas and Dave from rural Ohio. Dave’s photo shows an intelligent visage with high forehead. But what everyone probably remembers most is his nickname — the ironically most suitable “Short Dick.” The same way a six-foot-six basketball player might be called Tiny or a short-haired dachshund Curly, so Dave had to wrap his head around Short Dick. And he carried it well, laughing with the rest of us. We lost Dave early, at the age of 28. We salute you here, brother.
Robert Francis Legaspi
March 8, 1946 to March 1, 2009
SSG Legaspi was a lugubrious sort who spoke little and never seemed to crack a smile. He was memorable in that he wanted to marry an Asian woman (a Vietnamese national, I thought at first). There was much paperwork and other procedures involved in this process. We only did a minimum of the paperwork to be filled out before the entire file got forwarded to the personnel warrant officer at battalion for more detailed action. Along the way Robert would most likely have been subtly discouraged by the Army from pursuing this, but my recollection is that he knew his own mind and was insistent. About the woman I can only recall that she was tall for a Vietnamese. Turns out that she was Naeko, a probable Ryukyuan from Okinawa and not Vietnamese. Her 2015 obituary indicates that they married in December of 1971. That didn’t sound right to me because paperwork began in the first quarter of 1970, and late 1971 seemed a long time to wait before marriage was possible. But marry they did, had one child and two grandchildren, and evidently a happy marriage as well. He was in fact the love of Naeko’s life.
Arnie Lew Price
November 13, 1948 to September 11, 2012
SGT Arnie “Buck” Price became “a great guy” to fellow sergeant Rush Mortimer. They were in MP school together, and later in Vietnam extended at the same time. Mort remembers Arnie as having another dimension, a depth of character and energy that set him apart from others. He was not by nature much of a yes man, but was able to lead and knew the direction he wanted to pursue as part of his mission as a dog handler and NCO. Mort also recalls that Arnie was a funny guy, always pulling things on the troops especially after he made sergeant. His regret was that they didn’t have more time together. Mort explained that it’s a fact of life to lose people, but one always wishes the best for them in their lives. He will always think highly of Arnie and the time they had in the Army. And in Arnie’s 2012 obituary a childhood friend characterized him as “a strong willed person who always knew his mind.” I didn’t know him well but that was how I remembered him too. He filled a room with his voice and with his presence.
Five brothers remembered for who they were and what they did as part of a larger team and its mission. May you all now rest in peace.
Submitted by Steve Dragovich, Company Clerk, 981st, 70/71
This is sent to me from Terry Gawel 981st 70-71 via Steve Steven Dragovich981st 69-70.
REMEMBERING TOM W. DUDLEY
March 11, 1950 to January 1987
Tom Dudley and I served together in Vietnam in Team D at An Khe from around April 1970 when I got there until I left for Tuy Hua in December. He pulled sentry dog handling duty, while I was a vet tech. He was a diligent dog handler who cared for his dog and performed his duties with great attention to detail. I don’t remember much about his dog, which probably means he had no serious health problems that I was called upon to treat.
In our time off we and other of our friends played volleyball and basketball to keep fit, and cards to sharpen our wits — primarily poker, blackjack, and euchre. As can be seen in the indoor photo, while the rest of us mugged for the camera Tom was intent on his euchre hand, probably looking at his “bowers” (while Joe Geueke handled the “counter cards”). Something you can’t see in this photo but can probably sense: Tom had an excellent poker face and used it to great purpose in our games. Note too our makeshift card table and skillfully designed and executed candle holder.
Our group of close dog handling pals in addition to myself, Tom, and Joe, included Leonard Lausch and Luther Adkins. Later when I shipped out to Tuy Hua, Tom remained in An Khe.
After we all left Vietnam behind us in the early 1970s and went home, most of us kept in touch by occasional phone calls. Several of us married and began families during this time. In 1979 it was Tom’s turn, and Len and I were invited to his wedding as part of the wedding party. He and his lovely bride Martha were married in Anderson, South Carolina, on September 1st of that year. As can be seen in the wedding photo Tom still had very blond hair and Len’s was the same dark color as in Vietnam but with a lot more volume. My light hair had turned a deeper red and I was by now sporting an extravagantly fancy facial hair arrangement. Someone even said that I looked like a ginger version of Warren Beatty!
My recollection was that the wedding was a good sized one with a correspondingly large wedding party. It was a happy occasion for Tom’s family and friends (with way too much beer consumed the night before, especially by Tom!), the weather cooperated, the bride looked beautiful, and Tom dutifully matched his bride’s white gown with a white tuxedo of his own. It was a day to take part in the solemnity of the ceremony, the festivity of the country club reception, and the mildness of the weather. It was a day to remember.
Two specific recollections of that day: I caught the wedding photographer staring at me a few times. She finally approached me and said that at a wedding the month before, she had seen someone so like me that he could have been my identical twin. And a young man in attendance at the reception came up to me and thanked me for my service in Vietnam. The first occurrence was an odd one at any time, and the second a rare one for 1979.
Over the years our phone calls gradually dwindled, but we remembered each other at Christmas with holiday cards. By the time Tom died in 1987 at 36 we had lost touch, and it was only after I saw his name on the Sentry Dog Alumni roster that I realized he had passed.
We had many good times both in Vietnam and afterwards. Many of these times were commemorated in photos taken by us and shared with others. I was glad I knew Tom and had him as a friend, but regret what a short time we had together. I salute you now Tom. Rest in peace.
Hey Steve-Attached is a photo (front and back) of a new running shirt I just purchased and had silk screened in memory of Ron. Also attached is a post card sent with each order with a short explanation of the “Wear Blue Run to Remember” movement. This is my 3rd “Wear Blue” shirt and they are all I wear when I enter 5k races. (Weather permitting-they are all short sleeves).
I just got this from Thomas Watson, 720th MP BN Reunion Association. He got it from Dennis Henderson’s wife. Dennis was in the 212th 65-66. Here is the link for his obituary: https://prod3.meaningfulfunerals.net/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=4102209&fh_id=14383