A DOG SOLDIER
Dog Soldiers were the fierce military arm of the Cheyenne, defiant and proud, not begging appeasement but granting conciliation
Sometimes you get what you want but do you want what you get? Artie had always wanted one thing and Army Ranger was it, all rolled up in those two words. Maybe he had streamlined it somewhat as he grew older but the basic premise was still governing most of his actions. Then, what happened? What he considered a fortunate happenstance, was not shared by others…as along came the buildup in Vietnam.
He immediately gave himself over to the army when he turned of age, was tested, bested and assigned to the 1st Cav at Ft Hood. “Okay it’s Army Isn’t that why you came to this party?” “No, and there’s no party unless I’m part of it.” The request for Ranger school ultimately got a favorable answer and he was off to Ft Benning. Scoring well does not mean doing well and Ranger basic was enough to fill even the most mentally and physically strong with dread. Iron man was a concept that became another piece of equipment, fitting it into your brain and nailing it down. Basic was something not just lived through, it was something you survived. He felt it was copacetic except for one soft spot……the water exercises. They were the devil’s own design and survival took on a new meaning which translated to surviving might not be an option.
He had no sooner put boots on the Vietnamese soil than small skirmishes erupted at Khe Sanh where he found himself attached to the 1st marine Bn, even though Army. That world turned into a hell so all-consuming, nuclear weapons were considered and it culminated into the defining battle of Vietnam. Artie was tested to the nth degree. This night It was water, his Waterloo, but hadn’t he done this enough times he could do it in his sleep? Had done it in his sleep? He was at the bottom, no air, no breath, gear pulled him down but something was latched onto him like teeth. God almighty they were teeth, crocodiles? No they were pulling him…pulling and tugging and a mighty surge then his head broke water. Who are you? He tried to yell but realized his voice was a hoarse whisper. He saw a form break water and swim away. That was no croc it looked like a dog. A quick check at the aid station showed teeth marks in his shoulder.
“I think you met Cal” he was told upon relating the story to the medic. That dog died here, combat fatality. He’s become a fable for the marines and Rangers, he was their war dog and he has been known to save lives at times. Artie couldn’t believe it! A dog……what a ridiculous fable. But then didn’t he see the teeth marks? He’d have never gotten out of that water if it wasn’t for that strong body and teeth.
These days you’ll find Artie as a Ranger dog handler, and then there’s Little Cal, all of 2 years old, training complete and he’s going to be Artie’s lifetime partner!
The most dogged of soldiers you’ll ever know! When they latch on they’ll never let go!