Stars and Stripes – The four-legged Marines transfer to the Air Force, bringing new skills and abilities to Yokota
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – A pair of black Labrador Retrievers have gone from green to blue from the III Marine Expeditionary Force to new jobs with the 374th Air Force Security Squadron in Tokyo.
Splash and Allie – girls aged 4 and 5 – flew from Camp Hanson in Okinawa to the home of the U.S. Forces Japan and the 5th Air Force in the Japanese capital this spring, Tech said. Sgt. Seth Shannon, the Security Forces Squadron Kennel Master.
The dogs, which cost $ 100,000 to train, were from a deployment program the Marines are downsizing, Shannon said in a recent interview at the Yokota Kennel.
Splash and Allie give the squadron enhanced capabilities that could come in handy during a deployment, he said. Unlike Yokota’s other military working dogs, they can work off leash, sniffing explosives away from their handlers who can direct them with hand signals.
Labradors are not trained to bite and restrain intruders like Yokota’s other dogs, all German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, said Shannon, who has previously been deployed to the United Arab Emirates as a dog handler.
Last week, the airmen put the old “devil dogs” to the test on an obstacle course near the kennel. Their reward was to chase a tennis ball thrown by their masters.
“They would love to be petted,” Shannon said of the dogs, but added that it is Air Force policy not to let people, other than their handlers, touch them.
In January, the Commander of US Forces in Japan, Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, pinned Shannon with an Air Force Medal of Honor for his efforts to overcome coronavirus restrictions and procure 11 more military working dogs for bases in Japan last year.
Twitter: @ SethRobson1