Passing of Dale P. Betka, 212th 68-69

I know everyone saw the announcement for Dale P. Betka, 212th 68-69. Here is the obituary.

LORAIN – Dale P. Betka, 70, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at Cleveland Clinic – Avon Hospital.
Dale was born in Lorain, OH on October 10, 1946 to his loving parents, John and Gertrude Betka.
He graduated from Amherst High School, Class of 1966. Shortly following graduation, Dale was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967, serving his country as a Military Police in the K-9 unit during Vietnam and he was honorably discharged in 1968. He married his best friend and the love of his life, Patti (nee Renick) on June 19, 1971. Dale graduated from University of Akron in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He was in sales all of his professional life working at American Greetings for many years and most recently as a Regional Sales Manager for Hunter Douglas where he was awarded for his many accomplishments. He enjoyed fishing, photography, writing, drawing, Ohio State football and spending time with his family and friends. Dale was an active member at St. Peter Parish in Lorain where he served as a Lector, on Parish Council, Pre-Cana team member and parish festival committee.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 45 years of marriage, Patti Betka of Lorain; children, Eric (Larissa) Betka of Hudson and Kristen (Mark) Layman of Huntsville; granddaughters, Ella, Anna and Madelyn Betka: and Ava and Emma Layman; sister, Carole (Richard) Rice; sister-in-law, Georgie (Dave) Smith; and brothers-in-law, Ron, Randy and Rob (Leigh) Renick; and many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Gertrude Betka; and father-in-law and mother-in-law, George and Rose Renick.
The family will receive friends at Reidy-Scanlan-Giovannazzo Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2150 Broadway, Lorain (440) 244-1961 on Friday, May 5, 2017 from 4-8 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, May 6, 2017 at St. Peter Parish, 3655 Oberlin Ave., Lorain, OH with Fr. Craig M. Hovanec, Pastor, officiating (Meet at Church on Saturday). Christian burial services will be held at Calvary Cemetery in Lorain where military honors will be performed by the U.S. Army. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Dale’s memory to St. Peter Parish Capital Campaign, 3655 Oberlin Ave., Lorain, OH 44053. Online condolences may be sent using
Published in on May 4, 2017

Observation from Danny Conyers 212th 67-68

This is from Danny Conyers 212th 67-68. When he sent it to me I thought it should be retold here. Danny is not on Facebook.
I just happen to see the Tet Offensive last night.
They show where the VC over-run I think Post 5 where our Dog and Handler was killed.
It also showed the explosion of the 155 Powder Pad that me and Captain Roberts had just put a fire out.
That explosion was heard a 100 miles away.

Joel M. Anderson 212th 65-66

Joel M. Anderson, 74
Joel Myron Anderson, age 74, of Cokato, passed away Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, at his home.

A memorial service will take place Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Cokato.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Heart of Minnesota Animal Shelter (HMAS) located in Hutchinson, in Joel’s name.

Arrangements are being handled by Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Cokato.

Joel was born April 28, 1942, in Cokato, to Myron and Lucille “Ginny” (Calgren) Anderson. He grew up in Cokato, and graduated from Cokato High School in 1960.

Joel began service in the United States Army March 19, 1964, where he served as a dog handler with the military police, and spent time in Vietnam. He was honorably discharged March 13, 1966.

After service, Joel came back to Cokato and went to work for Martinson Construction, and later for Honeywell, where he stayed until retirement at age 55.

Joel married Elizabeth “Betty” Griffin Nov. 27, 1971, The couple made their home in Cokato.

Joel enjoyed the outdoors; he liked to hunt, enjoyed guns, and dogs.

He was very active in his church, where he participated in Bible study, Sunday school, and men’s prayer breakfast. At one time, Joel and Betty facilitated their own church, meeting at first in their own home, and later a building in town.

Joel was an active member of American Legion Post 209 of Cokato, and member of the honor guard.

He is survived by his wife, Betty, of Cokato; and sons Brady and Justin Anderson of Chanhassen.

Joel was preceded in death by his parents, Myron and Lucille; and sister Cindy Bergren.


Dogs We Love Babe


Babe, born in November of 1967 and Preston branded with alphanumeric 84A4, was the dog I trained at Lackland with and brought to Vietnam in January of 1970. She was a beautiful young German shepherd and a good worker and very affectionate.

Since I became Company Clerk shortly after arriving in-country I did not walk Babe on sentry duty. So most of my recollections of her were from my Lackland training period. I had originally been assigned a large Great Dane mix named Duke, and Babe had been assigned to my good friend and Lackland roommate Mark Arnold. The two dogs were very different from each other. Duke was big and wayward, with a mind of his own that did not take into account the wishes of his handler. Babe, smaller and more self-controlled, was much more accommodating. We noticed that she would not defecate in her outdoor kennel area and would wait to do so until her handler took her out for training and began walking her. Duke on the other hand would dump his load all over his kennel area, step and re-step in it with vigor, and then jump up and smear his by now filthy paws all over my fatigue shirt in a morning ritual he never varied from. Since we had to clean up after our dogs before daily training began, it wound up taking me the longest of all the handlers to clean up after the shit-crazed Duke, whirling dervishly around me. It was not a good way to start the day.

Eventually I had a lot of trouble subduing and controlling Duke and it was decided that because Mark was bigger and broader than I, we should exchange dogs. Mark was game and took it with good grace, but please believe me when I tell you that despite what was now happening to Mark it was the happiest day of my life thus far.

Training with Babe turned out to be a dream by comparison, albeit one with snags of its own. She had been very well trained, possibly because this had occurred while she was still technically in puppyhood. But she turned out to be a very subtle scent alerter — in other words she moved her ears not a lot. At first I had trouble recognizing when she was alerting on something, until one of the instructors pointed it out to me. I saw she was doing so, but if you blinked you would miss it. But I did get the hang of it eventually, although I later wondered what it would be like to be on daily post with so subtle an alerter in the middle of a dark night in Vietnam. She was also very quiet compared to the always ready to roll Duke, and that was all to the good for a successful sentry dog.

Another problem with Babe was that she eventually came to dislike the kibble the dogs were given at the end of each day of training — each piece the size of a rather large pretzel nugget and the ocher color of a pale tobacco leaf. We were told to stay with our dogs until they finished eating, and not to go to the truck transporting us back to the dorm until every dog had finished. It
got to the point where she was the only dog not eating. I was blamed for this by the instructors, and by my fellow handlers who were understandably impatient to get back to our dorm rooms. I tried everything, including hand feeding her (she sniffed the kibble, licked my hand, but would not eat) but nothing worked until each day she was given a small can of horsemeat mixed in with the kibble — this met with her approval and she then ate everything, including the kibble.

Despite these peculiarities Babe was a joy to work with. Since she was not large, she enjoyed the obstacle course at Lackland, even including the narrow pipe tunnel — a feature the heftier dogs hated, growling and moaning all along the way. Babe meanwhile flew through it and out the other end where I would be to greet and praise her. And at Cam Ranh Bay before she was reassigned to another handler, I would frequently meet her at the kennels, take her through the obstacle course there, and into the densely wooded training area, both of which she loved.

She took direction well and always responded well to verbal praise. In fact at Lackland she and I were asked to “perform” for audiences, usually made up of youngish women and their ‘tween daughters. An instructor would take on the role of announcer, describing what the handler and his dog were doing — usually alert, command, retrieve, and praise. There were usually around three handler/dog teams at these events, and Babe was always the star. I would always praise her lavishly thus: “GOOOOD GIRRRRL, THAT’S MY LITTLE PUPPY!!” And the audiences ate it up, with much oooh-ing and aaah-ing and “isn’t she cute”-ing.

Babe always enjoyed being “on” and when she was relegated to the sidelines she was not happy. One morning at Lackland we were told to tie up our dogs to the nearest tree and gather together for some sort of lesson without our dogs. I did so and took off my field jacket and left it with Babe by the tree. When I came back she had shredded part of the lining of my jacket (which my mother successfully reconstructed when I got home from Vietnam). We were also happy to learn that being “on” for Babe did not mean being a dog fighter. One of our instructors would periodically illustrate this by forming us in a single line with our dogs next to us and then he and a canine suspected dog fighter would weave in and out of the line. Well-behaved dogs would ignore this while other potential fighters would engage with the suspected fighter and pandemonium would ensue. Babe, well-trained as she was, of course did not take the bait.

Babe was also part of an increasingly large group of dogs that came down with a “mysterious illness” as it was described in the military. They could perform their military duties but would never return to the US due to the largely unknown details about the blood-related illness. It was at first thought to be histoplasmosis but eventually turned out to be Tropical Canine Pancytopenia (TCP), another blood-related disorder. The dogs would presumably either be euthanized when the US left Vietnam or else offered to the ARVN command. This bothered us all, especially those who wanted to bring home their military working dogs. At that time in Vietnam this type of dog adoption was not possible for military working dogs although it was for local Vietnamese dogs who were military pets or mascots — possible albeit with long periods of quarantine on military bases.

Lackland had very good food, including if you can possibly believe this a separate dinner cheese course between the main course and dessert. It comprised large chunks of three or four cheeses, with bread pieces and crackers — the kind of thing that would be common in British schools and other institutions in Europe. I would take a small chunk of one of the cheeses, wrap it in a napkin, and take it to Babe’s kennel after dinner (this was later in the training cycle some time after her kibble problem was solved). She thoroughly enjoyed this treat, and I got several hand licks for my efforts. Babe by the way was always a licker, and I remember that on the transport plane to Vietnam I would stick my fingers through the holes in her metal kennel and she would lick them as a sort of comfort-taking gesture.

Whenever I think of my military training I will always think of Babe. That goes for my friend Mark Arnold as well. We can today joke about our awful experiences with Duke (sorry Mark, I didn’t mean for you to be saddled with that monster), but we both remember the one-of-a-kind Babe with love and affection.

  1. Submitted by Steve Dragovich, Company Clerk, 981st, 70/71.

Remembering Timothy Allan Fox

Remembering Timothy Allan Fox

(July 4, 1948 to February 21, 1971)

I knew Tim Fox briefly during his stay at the 981st in Cam Ranh Bay in 1970, and we had a few opportunities to speak with each other. His stay was short but he had an indelible impact on 981st headquarters when he spared the life of a very small helpless pup and brought her to us to be our new unit mascot.

This is what happened. Tim was part of the 212th, serving in Long Binh and Vinh Long during his Vietnam stint, from 1968 to 1970. While I was 981st Company Clerk in 1970, Tim came to CRB prior to being sent back to stateside and discharged. This is my recollection of why he was in CRB — many soldiers having first arrived in-country in CRB, no matter where they served subsequently in Vietnam, came back to CRB when they were ready to rotate home. While waiting to do so he performed various duties. One day he and a partner were pulling dog-shooting duty (a sort of vector control procedure to stem the proliferation of local Vietnamese dogs), and when they came back Tim had a live pup for us as a replacement for our prior mascot Billy who had been accidentally killed by a jeep that ran him over while he was napping under it.

She was young, she was tiny, she was adorable and immediately won the hearts of all of us who saw and fell in love with her. In Tim’s honor we named her Foxy.

Tim’s stay with us was short so he missed Foxy’s transformation from a pup who was abruptly separated from her mother into a beautiful and highly personable dog. When she first arrived she had fur that in texture and length resembled that of a troll doll. Shortly thereafter she lost all of this longish fur and now resembled a thief wearing a black mask covering her face, with very short light brown fur over the rest of her. Then, in a stunning transformation she began to grow very long fur in colored layers of light brown, beige, and black, and right before our eyes turned into a beautiful long-haired dog with a plumed tail — a far cry from what she looked like when Tim spared her life.

Bob Biss, who served with Tim in Long Binh and Vinh Long remembers him as “one of the nicest people I ever met while serving.” Bob went home in April of 1970 and first heard that Tim was very sick and was being sent home, and then later got word that he had died. My recollection of Tim stems from around spring of 1970, but I do not remember him as being sick at all. This might have happened after he went home, or perhaps my recollection of precise dates is not correct or Bob’s memory of what happened and when could possibly be subject to error. However our recollections of Tim are not mutually exclusive and the fact remains that he died in early 1971, shortly after his service in Vietnam. I did not know this until I came across his obituary a year or so ago.

Tim’s Find A Grave obituary contains a photo from probably a high school yearbook, taken a few years before his Vietnam service. In the photo, I was startled to find that I recognized the planes of his face. The obituary also mentions that his rank was Spec 5, a possible indication that in the 212th he may have been a vet tech who was promoted. And in a 2010 obituary of his mother there is mention of the disturbing fact that in a family of six children, a total of three predeceased their parents — two of them alone having died in 1971.

By the time Tim left Vietnam, Foxy was flourishing and I continued to take care of her during the rest of my stay in Vietnam. I fed her, groomed her, rubbed her belly (she loved this and woud bliss out until I stopped), and protected her from sexually insistent males (we used a water gun for this — very effective) and from danger of suddenly moving vehicles. In fact, the first time I saw her snoozing under the shade of our parked jeep, I pulled her out and rubbed her nose smartly against one of the jeep’s tires. She got the message and never went near a jeep again.

I often afterwards thought that if it weren’t for Tim’s thoughtfulness and compassion, we never would have known and loved Foxy. She brought happiness to those who knew her and that was Tim’s doing as well. I’ll remember you best for that, Tim, for the day you brought that little bundle of pure joy into our lives. You will never be forgotten.

Submitted by Steve Dragovich, Company Clerk, 981st, 70/71.