767 – Aussie Vietnam Vets honor their war dogs

TRIBUTE TO HEROES, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

TRIBUTE TO HEROES: Ballina’s Macca McCallum (second from left) at the unveiling of a statue of tracker dog Caesar at Ingleburn, south-west of Sydney, with other Vietnam veterans who also served as Caesar’s handlers during the war.

This podcast is going to the dogs in this episode. Specifically, the Australian war dogs that were utilized by the Aussies in Vietnam are to be highlighted here. One of those dogs and its handler was featured in a story in The Northern Star of Lismore, Australia titled: For Macca it “ripped his guts out” to leave a mate behind.  The Northern Star is a newspaper located in Lismore which is in the northeastern corner of New South Wales. Macca is Australian Vietnam Veteran named Macca McCallum who lives in Ballina, which is located on the Coral Sea coast about fifty miles south of Brisbane and 500 miles north of Sydney.

According to the Northern Star article, as part of a tribute to war dogs at Ingleburn, south-west of Sydney, near where the infantry tracker dog training center once stood, an unveiling was held. The statue unveiled was a four-legged soldier with the regimental number D6N03, tracker dog Caesar. Caesar was one of 11 tracker dogs utilized by the Australians in Vietnam. Macca McCallum was part of the tracker dog team for the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, and he was Caesar’s third handler of seven. Caesar served in Vietnam from 1967-1970, but the black labrador-kelpie cross didn’t come home due to Australia’s quarantine restrictions.

Macca said he honored to be able to attend the unveiling at Ingleburn. His experiences on a sheep farm near Dubbo (about 200 miles northwest of Sydney) working with sheep dogs got him into a dog handler slot with the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment in Vietnam in 1968.

When he was matched up with his scout dog Caesar, Macca said the two of them  just “hit it off”. The Aussie tracker dog teams were made up of a dog, a handler, two visual trackers, a machine gunner and an RTO. The tracker dogs, were deployed on a 10 meter leash to its handler, and they would lead troops through rice paddies or into the jungle, with the handler working with hand signals or tugs of the leash to work with the dog in silence.

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