Archive for dog team

State chamber honors two and four-legged heroes

Posted in air force teams, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Kevin Chandler
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/8/2009 – ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Staff Sgt. James Hall, 97th Security Forces kennel master, and his military working dog, Endy, were recent recipients of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce Champions of Freedom award.

The two were recognized, along with six other military members throughout the state, for heroic actions while deployed overseas.
mwd endy
heroes on patrol
Staff Sgt. James Hall, 97th Security Forces kennel master and military working dog Endy help a convoy during patrols in Afghanistan. While deployed, Sergeant Hall and Endy recovered more than 800 pounds of explosives and weapons and uncovered three pressure plate improvised explosive devices buried in major roadways. The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce recognized Sergeant Hall and Endy with the Champions of Freedom award in Oklahoma City, Okla June 30. (Courtesy photo)

From October 2008 to April 2009, Sergeant Hall and Endy were deployed to a forward operating location in Afghanistan. Attached to the 7th and 3rd Special Forces Groups, Sergeant Hall and Endy participated in over 25 combat operations, recovering over 800 pounds in weapons and explosives. They also discovered three buried pressure plate improvised explosive devices, enabling convoys to safely traverse the country.

“We were in harm’ s way almost 24/7,” Sergeant Hall said. While his seven years of experience as a K-9 handler prepared him for the demanding assignment, Sergeant Hall says his partner is the one reason he returned home safely.

“He (Endy) saved my life repeatedly,” Sergeant Hall explained, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”

According to Sergeant Hall, the duo proved so effective during their deployment as a result of the rapport they developed in the months prior to leaving. Endy, who has been in the military working dog program since 2003, developed such a strong bond with Sergeant Hall that when one sensed danger the other was able to respond. Endy also went to nearby Fort Sill to train on flying in helicopters in preparation for the deployment.

While this was Endy’s first deployment, the kennel here usually deploys four dogs every year. The dogs are trained for security patrols, clearing buildings and detecting drugs and explosives. The kennel currently houses seven dogs, two trained in detecting drugs and five used to detect explosives. The handlers also train rigorously in skills needed for security forces and K-9 handlers. For example, all handlers must be certified in K-9 self aid buddy care. This training proved useful to Sergeant Hall and Endy.

“We were out in the field, far away from any base, when Endy got caught in constantine wire. I got him out of the wire but he was sliced up pretty bad and I had to sew up his wounds right there,” Sergeant Hall said.

One of the more demanding tasks Sergeant Hall encountered upon his arrival to Afghanistan was assimilating into a Total Force unit environment. The unit was largely comprised of Army personnel, requiring Sergeant Hall and his counterparts to adapt to one another to develop cohesion.

“I had to tell them my capabilities so we could lay out how we were going to work together,” he explained. “It took a while for them to get to know me, to know that I would have their back.” Ultimately, it was Endy who broke the ice between Sergeant Hall and the other members of the unit.

“When we found an IED, the walls came down,” Sergeant Hall said with a grin.

While he has received several awards for his actions in Afghanistan, including the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal and the Army Combat Action Badge, Sergeant Hall said this award was something special.

“The state of Oklahoma really supports the military,” he said. “I believe everyone over there and here stateside deserves that kind of recognition.”


Army Military Working Dog Unit video-K9

Posted in Army Dog teams, various k9 videos, Various Teams with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2008 by wardogmarine

“Gotta love this job”

Air Force K9 Handler Married Soldier Who Saved Her Life

Posted in air force teams, Military Working Dogs, retired dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by wardogmarine

This is an incredible story. Love sure brings people together in the most unique ways. This Air Force military working dog team is struck by an IED(improvised explosive device). Although badly wounded, she and her military working dog Rex survive. The US Army medic who comes to her aid, saves her life, and they eventually get married. On top of all that, they are allowed to adopt her military working dog Rex. I wish these two all the best. The article, which is from the Air Force Times is below. 

Jamie’s war wounds

K-9 handler adopted her Air Force dog and married the soldier who saved her life. But she’s still struggling to recover

By Michael Hoffman – Staff writer, Air Force Times

Every married couple has a story about the first time they met. Mike and Jaime Mangan met on the battlefield in Iraq.

She was severely wounded, and he almost let her die.

Jaime, then an Air Force K-9 handler with the 21st Security Forces Squadron, was patrolling Baghdad on June 25, 2005, with her working dog, Rex. They were searching for improvised explosive devices.

On the drive back to base in her Humvee, Jamie drove over one.

The explosion flung her onto the street, where she lay unconscious. Mike, an Army sergeant first class with the 1159th Medical Company, was the first medic to reach her.

Jaime’s lungs had collapsed, her pelvis was shattered, and three vertebrae in her spine were fractured. Mike later discovered she also was bleeding internally, and her spleen had ruptured.

He had to make a snap decision: Should he spend time trying to save her or — due to the seriousness of her injuries — move on to help others who might have a better chance of surviving?

As luck would have it, several factors allowed him to focus on Jaime.

The helicopter that took him and other soldiers to the scene was ready to depart immediately, so he got there quicker than usual. In addition, he had a new medic working with him, so he could afford to spend time with Jaime.

“If I hadn’t had the extra medic that day and we had been five minutes later, she would have been someone I had to leave behind,” he said.

When Mike finally left Jaime’s side, he had no reason to think he would see her again. And he wouldn’t have — except for Rex.

The German shepherd survived the IED attack with only a singed nose and was found walking near the blast site. Jaime, rehabbing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., thought the dog had been killed, but once she found out he survived, she wanted to adopt him.

Rex was nowhere near retirement age, however, and under Title 10, U.S. Code 2583, the Air Force couldn’t release Rex if he was still young and healthy enough to work.

Jaime chose to fight that law, going public with her plea. Many newspapers and TV news stations carried stories on her plight. Soon, members of Congress and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley took notice and backed her request.

On Dec. 30, 2005, President Bush signed into law a bill to allow working dogs to be adopted by their handlers after a traumatic event.

So Jaime was able to take Rex home. Together, they attended the 2006 State of the Union speech as guests of first lady Laura Bush in the House gallery.

“The entire process was a neat deal,” said Jaime’s dad, Randy Himes. “Rex is now part of the family. We have not one but two Air Force members now.”

Photo Courtesy of JOHN NORMILE
Mike and Jamie Mangan with Rex outside their farm in Smethport Pennsylvania on August 4. Jamie and Rex were a team in Iraq where Jamie was gravely injured by an IED in 2005. Mike Mangan was the first medic on the scene and saved her life, and they eventually were married.


Home from his deployment to Kirkuk, Iraq, Mike, 47, read about Jaime’s battle to bring Rex home and instantly recognized her face.

By then, Jaime was back at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. One of Mike’s friends, an officer at the base, sent pictures of the ceremony when she received the Purple Heart. The friend encouraged him to call her.

He did.

“I started off saying, ‘I want to apologize ahead of time if this upsets you, but my name is Mike and I was the flight medic the day you were wounded,’” he recalled.

“Then there was just silence and I was like, ‘Man, I stepped on it.’”

Stunned, Jaime eventually explained that she was trying to piece together exactly what happened after the IED exploded. She had no coherent memories for a month after the blast occurred. She and Mike talked for 45 minutes.

“She ended the conversation saying, ‘Thank you for saving my life.’ I just said, ‘Don’t say that to me on the telephone. I want to meet you,’” Mike said.

The two spoke on the phone and e-mailed for three months before Mike — who was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. — took a trip to Peterson in August 2006.

“It was great that I got to say thank you,” she said. “I also got to fill in some voids and, at the same time, I felt the need to get to know him.”


Jaime, 29, had dreamed of becoming a veterinarian after her service, but when she returned to school, it was impossible for her to concentrate on coursework or study for tests.

“I used to be a straight-A student, but now I can’t learn new things or remember formulas,” she said.

The IED had left her with traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the Iraq war.

She has the classic symptoms: memory loss, migraine headaches, difficulty concentrating and violent mood swings.

“In the beginning, you would call her and she would never call you back just because she could never remember,” said Staff Sgt. Tony Davis, a former co-worker.

Jaime still suffers excruciating pain that makes it hard to walk and to sleep at night, she said.

The jagged scars on her chest serve as a reminder of the multiple surgeries she endured. Doctors removed her spleen and fused her spine to the inside of her pelvis after the attack.

Jaime said it’s unlikely she’ll be able to have children.

She wanted to remain in uniform, but her injuries forced her to medically retire as a technical sergeant.

“Leaving the Air Force was real difficult for her,” Himes said.


Mike flew to Peterson for Jaime’s retirement ceremony, and the two began dating.

Jaime moved back East to her hometown of Smethport, Pa., to be closer to her family.

Mike retired from the Army in June 2007 as a first sergeant after 26 years and moved to Pennsylvania, where he works at the local hospital as a registered nurse.

Four months after they started dating, the two got married in a small ceremony in November 2006.

“I think Mike would have liked to have had a bigger wedding, but I just couldn’t handle it, and he understood that,” Jaime said.

Mike and Jaime lean on each other for support.

“There are good days and bad days,” he said. “There are days she is in so much pain she can’t even sleep and there are times her mind isn’t in the same ZIP code … but at least I know the source of the pain and it’s easier when you are both dealing with it,” Mike said.

Jaime now investigates child abuse cases as a social worker for the McKean County Children and Youth Services Agency.

She also volunteers as an emergency medical technician for the Hamlin Township fire department, where her father is the chief.

But what Jaime says she finds most therapeutic is working with Rex and taking care of her five horses.

“It’s mentally relaxing just brushing them,” she said. The horses “don’t judge you or demand anything from you. I just can’t connect with people anymore, it’s too stressful.”

However, Jaime says she could soon lose those horses because she won’t be able to afford them. The Veterans Affairs Department recently reduced her disability rating from 100 percent to 70 percent, following a medical re-examination. That cut her monthly disability payment from $2,500 to $1,100.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Mike Parker, who helps service members navigate the VA process, said it’s not uncommon for ratings to drop as a patient gets better.

But, Mike said he finds it difficult to understand.

“I don’t look at it as critical income, but for you to give up your organs like that, and then someone says it’s not worth that compensation anymore. Geez.”

Losing those organs isn’t what bothers Jaime the most, though. It’s her luck.

The hardest part of her recovery has been thinking of the more than 1,800 service members who have died from IED blasts.

“I have a hard time with the fact that I survived,” she said. “Maybe [Mike] should have just walked away. There are so many soldiers who have died that have kids and had families.

“I don’t have kids. I don’t have anyone that needed me there. I just wish I could have taken somebody else’s place.”

Heroic dog remembered after serving 10 years

Posted in fallen dogs, Military Working Dogs, Miscellaneous, police dog teams, police dogs, Various Teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by wardogmarine



By Dennis Yohnka 
The Daily Journal correspondent in Illinois

Lorraine Spaeth tried her best to prepare for Monday. The sunless, rainy weather seemed perfect for the task at hand. She wanted to say goodbye with compassion, but hoped to avoid the overflow of emotion that some consider wasted on animals.

This day would mark her last hours with her dog, Kelsey. And her first hours of adjusting to life without her. They weren’t just companions. They were co-workers, partners for 10 years.    As longtime members of the Manteno Fire Department and the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department Canine Search Team, it was Lorraine and Kelsey’s duty to help bring closure to families with missing loved ones. The 13-year-old German shepherd made three “live finds” in her career, but her specialty was locating the lifeless bodies that stymied police investigations.

Monday, the process of closure began for Kelsey.

Spaeth, her veterinarian and a few friends said their last goodbyes, before this honored public servant was euthanized. Her body was taken for cremation at the Wolfe Whispering Winds pet crematory in Chebanse. Services there were donated out of respect for Kelsey’s service.

Kelsey shows her love for kittens.(photo courtesy of The Daily Journal)

On Tuesday, the ashes were spread in a private location where Kelsey once trained and played. Yes, even working dogs have some time for play.

“She was great on the job, but she was just as good as a companion,” Lorraine said. “She had cancer four years ago and we got her through that. She didn’t work much toward the end. She was more of my lap dog then.”

Kelsey started having seizures earlier this year; and as they became more commonplace and more stressful for the dog, the decision was made to end her fear and discomfort.

Lorraine described Kelsey as a good traveler, and they took on missing persons cases in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as Illinois. Kelsey was responsible for the discovery of 10 bodies in the Kankakee area. But Lorraine is more comfortable recalling the living subjects.

“There was a fugitive once in a cornfield. I didn’t know it, but Kelsey did. She started barking and wanting to go in the field,” Lorraine said. “I shouted out that the man had better come out or I was going to send the dog in — and that ‘cornfield’ started talking back to me right away.”

It was more often the case that Kelsey led her human friends to the remains of bodies, sometimes little more than the bones. Since her purchase from a Monee kennel, “The Kaiser’s Miss Kelsey Storm” (that’s her given name) was trained just for this sort of work.

In fact, her reputation was such that New York City officials requested Kelsey’s help in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She couldn’t make the trip, though. Lorraine was recovering from knee surgery at the time and couldn’t handle the duty.

“I guess I really sheltered her a lot,” Lorraine said of her friend. “I kept her away from the press. I didn’t want her distracted on the job. I didn’t let kids pet her if she was working. But I really think she was happy. She had a good life.”

Lorraine has retired from the Manteno Fire Department, but she is still active with the sheriff’s department team. After the private funeral services Monday afternoon, she expected to get back to training her fourth dog.

“There are just two important things that I want people to know about Kelsey,” Lorraine said outside the Manteno Fire Department offices. “They should know that we were part of a search team and that team goes on. Those volunteers are still out there. Still nonprofit. Still ready to serve.

“And the second thing is the appreciation I feel for Rod Wolfe (and the staff at the pet crematory). They donated their services out of respect for Kelsey’s service and I just think that’s very nice.”

With a steady shower still falling outside, Lorraine took time to go through some photos of her dog. And she remembered the more tender moments.

“We had a case — I think it was out by Limestone,” she said. “Kelsey came back from the field with a stray kitten and took it to the Red Cross tent. And then she went back to work.

“She always had a thing for kittens. She could take or leave dogs, but she loved kittens.”

Update on Sgt 1st Class Gregory Rodriguez

Posted in fallen handlers, military working dog handlers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2008 by wardogmarine

Rodriguez to be buried in Arlington

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory A. Rodriguez, 35, died when his unit came under fire in central Afghanistan on Tuesday, according to the Department of Defense.

“I asked Greg if anything ever happened to him where he’d prefer to be buried,” said his wife, Laura Rodriguez, “and he told me Arlington, as he wanted to be among the best and the brave.”

Sgt. Rodriguez graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School in 1991. He didn’t immediately join the service, his wife said.

But about three years later, he joined the Army Reserve. The military life agreed with him, and he went on full-time active duty in December 1996. “We have been stationed in Hawaii, Missouri, Alaska, Texas, and Germany,” Laura said. She is a native of Merrill.

Laura now lives in San Antonio, Texas, site of Lackland Air Force Base, which houses the military’s working dog programs. Her husband was a military police dog handler.

Sgt. Rodriguez and his dog, Jacko (pronounced “Jocko”), were a military special search dog team. Jacko survived the ambush in Ana Kalay, Afghanistan, and Laura said she hopes the Pentagon will release the dog to the family.

“He was Greg’s best companion for the past couple of years,” she said. “He’d been sleeping with Greg every night since they landed in Afghanistan.”

The team was assigned to the K-9 unit of the 527th Military Police Co., 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th MP Brigade, based in Ansbach, Germany.

Sgt. Rodriguez’s mother, Virginia Richardson of Lake Isabella, is a support staff member at Chippewa Hills High School. Chippewa Hills Superintendent Shirley Howard said she and another staffer helped the military team that delivered the news find the Richardson home, and staffers at Chippewa Hills have given donations for the family.

Greg and Laura Rodriguez were married in Honolulu in January 1999, and have three young children.

“Greg is the best dad, a loving husband, and an awesome soldier who loved being able to train and handle his K9 companions,” Laura said.

“Rod,” as he was known to his Army buddies, was a Red Wings fan who loved to hassle fans of other hockey teams he met during his military career, she said.

“Greg loved to push everyone’s buttons and get people going with his rare, unique sense of sarcasm,” she said. At the same time, her husband was “a very committed, loyal individual and could be counted on whenever needed.”

Fred Dorr, president of the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association, said a memorial service was being scheduled for Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

A Mt. Pleasant memorial service also is likely to take place, but has not yet been scheduled.


After years of working closely with his police partner, Talon is retired to home and family

Posted in police dog teams, police dogs, retired dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2008 by wardogmarine

photo provided by Smith family – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith and police K-9 Talon in 2005 with 50lbs of seized cannabis discovered by Talon. Talon was retired in July after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he continues to live at the Smith family home in Palmetto. Talon participated in 694 arrests during his 6.5 year-long law enforcement career with Smith. Photo courtesy of the Smith family.

 – from the Bradenton Herald

Work is much too quiet these days for Cpl. Tom Smith.

The thunderous bark of the partner that accompanied Smith at work for the past 6½ years is gone.

Now, the 10-year veteran of the Palmetto Police Department is back to working shifts alone.

Smith’s shifts with Talon ended this summer when the 8-year-old dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Smith took Talon to a veterinarian July 15, expecting to hear of hip or elbow problems.

Instead, vets found anaplastic sarcoma that had already spread into Talon’s lymphatic system.

“For some reason, I was never thinking cancer. I was thinking we could work him a couple more years,” Smith said. “Then this came out of nowhere.”

The partner who’s assisted Smith in 271 felony arrests and 423 misdemeanor arrests is retired from police service and spending his final days with Smith and his family.

Talon’s duty now is to enjoy life as a full-time family dog with Smith, his wife, Cindy, and their three sons Alex, 19; T.J., 14; and Brandon, 12.

The Smiths have the family dogs they’ve chosen – a pug and a Japanese chin – and Talon, the German shepherd that was born in Europe, bred as a police service dog, sold to the Palmetto Police Department and assigned to Smith in 2002.

In turn, Talon also was assigned to Smith’s family then, as police dogs are required to live with their handlers.

Having a live-in K-9 concerned Cindy Smith, as a mother.

Talon’s razor-sharp teeth can easily put blood blisters on the limbs of someone brave enough to get in a bite suit used in training.

“When we first got him I wasn’t so sure, being that he’s trained to attack, about what kind of situation we were getting ourselves into,” Cindy said. “But right away, I saw he’s so loving and very sociable and took to our family right away.”

A photo album dedicated to Talon shows his family side and police service.

There’s a photo of a young Talon with a death grip on a bite suit and one with him proudly posing next to 50 pounds of marijuana he located at the post office.

At home, there’s a snapshot of Talon with the Smiths on Christmas, and one of him towering over their pug, Kirby, and Japanese chin, Precious. – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith his recently retired police K-9 Talon. Talon was retired in July after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he continues to live at the Smith family home in Palmetto. Talon participated in 694 arrests during his 6.5 year-long law enforcement career with Smith. PAUL VIDELA/

“Talon has not just been a great police dog but he has been a super family pet,” Tom said. “He’s always there when you need him.”

In return, the Smiths are there for Talon.

“Retirement has been hard on him,” Tom said.

When Tom’s at work, Cindy comforts Talon, who howls and paces for his handler.

“He’ll lay by the door and wait for Tom to come home, and every once in awhile he’ll remember why he’s upset and cry and howl again,” Cindy said.

Alex makes sure Talon gets his exercise, T.J. takes him for walks, and Brandon lets him lie at the foot of his bed at night.

“You go through all the memories of him, and you wonder what life is going to be like without him,” Cindy said.

Grace Gagliano, Bradenton city reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 2620. – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith’s recently retired police K-9 Talon, at center, poses with Smith’s sons, from left, Alex, 19, Brandon, 12, and Thomas, 14. Talon and the other two affable Smith pooches Kirby, at left, and Precious live happily together, with the occasional squabble over prized chew toys. Talon, however, is the only dog in the family who can claim 694 arrests over a 6.5 year-long law enforcement career. PAUL VIDELA/

-I wish you a long lasting retirement Talon, congratulations on a wonderful career and thank you for your service.

British Army Dog Team Killed In Action

Posted in fallen handlers, Foreign Dog Teams with tags , , , , , , on August 1, 2008 by wardogmarine

Unbelievable story here. Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe, a military working dog handler with the British Army, and his military working dog Sasha were scheduled to leave on July 23rd “but was concerned about the lack of ammunition and explosives search cover if he departed and lobbied his unit to allow him to stay.” They were killed one day later on the frontlines during a firefight with the Taliban. This is another example of the dangers our brave K9 teams face on the frontlines as they continuously perform their duties courageously. Let’s keep Lance Corporal Rowe and Sasha in our prayers. You can read the full story here- British Dog Handler Killed 

Lance Corporal Kenneth Michael Rowe

Dedicated: Lance-Corporal Kenneth Rowe had been due to leave the frontline the day before he died, but stayed on to support his comrades