Hahn Air Base, West Germany: The 50th AP K-9 Section, 1961

...always trust your dog!


Was There A Real Threat To Base Security During The Cold War?

The Air Force though so, Command had long before recognized the vulnerability of the air base to attack by small, determined guerrilla groups, from its recent experiences during the Korean Conflict.

That threat became especially real in Europe in the sixties as the Soviets developed highly trained attackers* such as the Spetznaz units, just for that purpose.

Air Base Defense

The Air Police Squadron's main mission was 'to provide physical security on a day-to-day basis for those aerospace war ready resources that are indispensable for engagement against the enemy', in other words 'to ensure the capability of the Wing to fly and to fight wherever and whenever it may be called upon to do so.' That meant the protection of nuclear weaponary, the base delivery systems and all personnel.

Security Was JOB ONE!

Now don't get us wrong!  We weren't "gung-ho," like SAC was, not by a long shot, afterall we were TAC; and if you saw us in our "cold weather gear," you would have thought, the U.S. Post Office was more military looking than us.  But when all was said and done...we did take our job seriously!

Hahn During The Cold War!

Did anything ever happen at Hahn Air Base?  Well ...yes and no!  It certainly wasn't combat like Vietnam ...it was a different time, and a different kind of War. You never expected trouble but you also never knew what was going to happen while you were working posts.

Over the three years, that I was at Hahn, several tower guards were shot at but no one was ever hit, A armed missile security guard went off the deep end once and refused to surrender his post; after several hours he was finally convince to lay down his weapon. And G2 arrested some spies in Lautzenhausen, who were caught 'bird watching' ...using binoculars to track our plane mission schedules. Plus, once in awhile, our planes used to returned to base with more holes than before their recon mission. There even was an intruder, who climbed the wrong fence...K-9 was working there! And oh yeah, a bomb exploded August 7, 1983 at the base Officers Club, causing extensive damages.

*No Air Force air base in Europe (or else where) was ever attacked and over runned by a major outside force; there has been penerations by small groups or individuals but nothing that affected the base mission to fly and fight!

K-9's Mission

...to provide support for the wing
in detecting, deterring and detaining
any would be intruders.

The Time: 1963, K-9 Flight 2
...getting post assignments!

In the early sixties during the Cold War, all our Security Post were secured areas on base. Hahn, was the second largest Air Base in West Germany, the seventh in Europe, with 72 nuclear capable fighter bombers and an estimated 150 nuclear bombs stored in weapons vaults. The base had five hangars, and four aircraft squadrons, several runways served by no less than 20 taxiways plus 88 various structures, classified as shelters and bunkers.

Surrounding the entire base was a "security ring"...miles and miles of eight-foot high chain link fencing, topped with 45-degree barbed wire. The first 'ring' began at the base perimeter through which persons entered the base, but only if they had DoD vehicle decals or military ID's; all other visitors had to be checked further before gaining admittance.

F-16's On Hahn's Flightline
White Tail Code Of The 313th TFS

Then each Category One Area, such as: the base flightline, communications, Zulu and Victor Alert, all aircraft bunkers, weapons storage areas, etc were circled by a second ring of fencing; some areas even had double fences, with a ten foot wide grass strip in between them.

The View From Area Five's Tower

Area 5: Nuclear Weapon Storage,
And Aircraft Bunkers On Left

And real 'hot areas' had more fencing, lighting plus towers manned with guards, armed with machine guns and search lights.

They all had main gate posts: to help control access to only authorize personel with CABs.

Area #5 From Road, Nuclear Weapon Storage.

Plus they were controlled by a Senior Security NCOIC, along with one or two gate sentries, a SAT team plus if large enough mobile patrols ...and at night... us, the K-9 handler with his sentry dog. Our job was to detect and detain intruders or any unauthorize personel.

And to keep everyone alert to security concerns in the daily routine of their work, operations started "vulnerability tests" using OSI personnel to infiltrate on base secure areas and plant "simulated" bombs, or other devices. This added a note of realism to the otherwise dull monotonous tasks of the sentries including K-9s, not that we were complaining at all.

Missile Support Group Merges With The 50th APs!

Hecken, Missile Site V

By mid 1962, the Air Police from the 586th Missile Support Group, had merged with the 50th APRON. We now had a roster of 57 Sentry Dogs and Handlers, along with new off base posts: an half dozen or so missile sites, with names like Hecken Site V, which was near Kirtchberg, Weinheim Site IV, Hunheim VI, Metro Tango, Enrich and others. Plus Morbach, which was the largest ammo dump in Europe.

586th Support Sq. K-9 Flight, 1961
(l-r) A1c Bobby Hulon (Cella), A2c Jessie Quinlan (Doarn), A1c Tom Foss (Astor), A1c Bill Donaghy (Arcka), A2c Dallas Ellis (Bello), A2c Gary Willis (Stau), and A2c Bob Garris (Rolf).

SiteBuilder Note: Hecken Site V was considered 'good duty' for K-9. The site was located about 10 miles off base, so we were allowed to have our breakfast at the small mess hall located on the site. The cooks there made the "best cheese omelets'" in the entire Air Force, but that's just my opinion.

My First Day As Flight Leader...That's Me In Front

Working Posts!

There isn't an awful lot to say about working post, most of the time depending on the area, it was just you, your dog, your thoughts, your imagination, fears, plus Hahn's weather, and time...lots and lots of time.

Former Area 5, Nuclear Weapon Storage

On some posts, you were more of a deterrent, had no cover, and lots of lights! Personally, I didn't like being a deterrent, it always made me nervous being out in the open like that ...a walking target!

Area 5, was just like that, it had all of five trees in it. It was a nuclear weapon storage area, held six vaults for storage, plus a outside storage area, surrounded by earth walls and several small buildings for area personel (loading crews).

Security was double fencing, guard towers in each of the rear corners, fence lighting pointed down, rather than out (it was kinda stupid), plus a main gate post and a K-9 patrol at night.

Other K-9 posts, were heavily wooded and fairly large, with no lighting, other than moonlight; some were large enough for two K-9 patrols, like Area 6 & 7, Hecken Missile Site V and of course Morbach (Morbach ammo dump eventually had 4 K-9 teams). Some you worked inside the fence, others outside it.

Most, though, were single K-9 patrols.

Sometimes you might come out of the woods and say hello to one of the sentries, if you knew them ...talk about home, girls, sports, anything to pass the time away.  Waiting for the birds!

The birds were K-9's time clock ...every morning about an half hour or so before daybreak, the birds would start chatting away ...and you knew it would soon be quiting time.

And we did get a couple of breaks each night for coffee and to warm up, if it was cold. At least once per night, the K-9 Flight Leader would come around checking posts in the 'doggy van,' and most of the time he would have some snacks from the Mess Hall  (the base cooks always took real good care of us) or you might stop at a gate post for a smoke.

But mostly, you just did alot of walking!

Sometimes while walking, your dog would alert, he would just stopped dead in his tracks, ears up, tail out, his nose sniffing the night air and would refused to go any further.

Remembering the basic K9 rule, "always trust your dog," you would check it out ...very, very carefully.

Slowly you would make your way towards whatever it was that he alerted on, trying to keep some cover, your flashlight ready and in your hand, ready to challenge and release your dog.

And then suddenly, you would hear some movement, a sound of a twig snapping and then something running off ...generally it would be a animal, like a deer or wild pig.

You would breathe of sigh of relief, and in the next second be ready to 'kill' your K-9 partner!

But he did his job, your dog alerted on something that wasn't suspose to be there!

And it was your job to find out what it was!

Sometimes, base operations, would send out a team, to keep you on your toes! A darn drill.

Other times, it might be the Area's NCOIC, just making sure everything was OK or a crew getting some suplies.

And occasionally, it was for REAL.

About Hahn's Weather...

Looks Like Its Going
To Be Cold Tonight!

There were only two kinds of seasons at Hahn, "lousy" and "worse," summers were short and the winters seen like they went on forever.

It wasn't unusual to get six inches of snow in four hours, have it turn to sheet then freezing rain, with a average temperture of 10 degrees for weeks.

And it got even colder ...some nights, the temperture was only 2 ...you really had to be there to enjoy it! Gotta tell you though, it certainly put color in your cheeks!

I'm just glad I only had to work in it and didn't have "to walk to school" in it ...sorry Dad, I had to say it. (lol)

Example of the type of boot we used
...he doesn't seen to be enjoying it!

There was one winter, that the ice was so bad, we had to use little leather boots on the dogs to keep their pads from being cut up, had a heck of a time keeping them on (we had no duct tape).

And even then, we only could work them an half hour at a time, had to take them inside a gate house and thaw them out, the weather was so bad!

A3c Gary Willis, modeling 'cold' weather gear,
temperture abt. 20 on Dec. 30, 1960,
in front of the 586th barracks.

In three years of letters sent home, every single letter had at least one paragraph on just how bad the weather was.

In the winter, newspapers from home were a welcome gift not just for the hometown news but because we used to use the pages for insulation; we would placed the pages in between our pants and our foul weather gear.

Summers weren't a problem at all ...they were just short!


Oberweis: Winter, December, 1963. Missile Support Area
My favorite photograph, courtesy of the 587th Missile Maintenance Squadron

region of Rheinland-Platz

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