Story and photos by Kerstin Lopez
Several veterans of the 8125th Sentry Dog Detachment based out of what was once known as Camp Carson, came back to where it all began to commemorate their 56-year reunion, Oct. 5.
Twenty six reunion members made a special trip to the Fort Carson area from all around the country to witness the changes of the installation and the military working dog program. The post visit consisted of a brief bus tour, an up close viewing of the 759th Military Police Battalion K-9 kennels, military working dog training area and demonstration of the dogs and handlers at work, and concluded with lunch at the Raider Dining Facility.
The onset of the Korean War in 1950 increased the need for war dogs, and training canines for scout, messenger and sentry missions became a priority at the Mountain Post. According to post history, the Army Dog Training Center at Fort Carson was the only training installation for military canines in the United States at the time, and the 8125th Sentry Dog Detachment Soldiers was the first to take on the task.
The first reunion was held in 1997 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the group has met a total of seven times since then to commemorate their days as sentry dog handlers, said Rhonda Batson, event organizer and daughter of Fred Batson, 8125th Sentry Dog Detachment veteran.
Batson said the reunions afford the remaining sentry dog detachment veterans the opportunity to get together and remember the days they served together.
Orion Bakken, veteran, said the reunions are great and he looks forward to each one.
“I love them,” Bakken said.
The small group of veterans reminisced about the training they did at Carson before shipping off to Korea with their four-legged battle buddies in 1954, and discovered how their service paved the way for future K-9 handlers.
Staff Sgt. John Mariana, 148th MP Detachment, 759th MP Bn. K-9 handler, thanked the veteran sentry dog handlers for their service and contributions to the military working dog program.
“If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be here,” Mariana said.