As America suffered the internal upheaval of the Vietnam War era, Carl Adams and thousands of other young men volunteered to serve their country in wartime. Trained as sentry dog handlers, many, together with their devoted German shepherd dogs, were assigned to guard American air bases against the continual threat of Vietcong attack. These heroic K9 teams did their jobs well: they share credit for saving more than 10,000 American lives during the war. Nearly all the dog handlers returned to the United States after their tours of duty. The dogs, despite their valorous service, were classified as "surplus equipment" at the war's end, and were destroyed outright or consigned to a doubtful fate when they were turned over to the Army of South Vietnam. Here is the story of K9, seen firsthand through the eyes of a nineteen-year-old who never chanted "Hell no -- we won't go!" Remember the Alamo has been selected as an information resource for a planned documentary on the modern military working dog. A high school student working on an assignment asked me, "Why do you think we lost the Vietnam War?" I replied: "Imagine you're on the football team. You're scheduled to play a team from another conference. Many of your fellow students don't want the game played, so they march in protest and refuse to participate. When you get to the other team's stadium, you find out the game will be played with two sets of rules -- one for your side and another for your opponents. They don't even wear uniforms, so it's impossible to tell them apart from their fans in the stands.
"The game is the toughest you've ever been in. Injuries are many. Your classmates at home hear a broadcast of the game, but the announcer distorts the facts, and tells the listeners there's no way your team can win. Most believe him. Finally, your coach gets a call from the superintendent of schools -- you're going home. "Back at school, your classmates spit at you and call you names. Even though you played your heart out, and some of your teammates were hurt so badly that they'll never play again, no one wants anything to do with you." Vietnam veterans will tell you that we didn't lose the war. We never lost a major battle. We never lost an airfield. The coach put us on the bus before the end of the fourth quarter. We were winning when we left. We weren't politicians or generals. We didn't participate in the process of establishing objectives or selecting targets -- from our vantage point on the perimeter of Phan Rang Air Base, we were the targets.