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Military working dog handlers from the Combat Center's Provost Marshal's Office pose with Jon hemp and Ron Carlton, two founders of the Feed the Dawgs organization and Air Force Vietnam veteran dog handlers, at the Home Depot in San Bernardino, Calif., Dec. 4.

Photo by Pvt. Michael T. Gams

Feed the Dawgs lends helping paw to Combat Center

11 Dec 2009 | Pvt. Michael T. Gams

The Home Depot and the Feed the Dawgs organization demonstrated their support for the military working dog handlers of the Combat Center’s Provost Marshal’s Office by donating a barbecue grill to the unit Dec. 4.

Feed the Dawgs is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 by Vietnam Veterans in the dog handler, or K-9, community who provide barbecue grills to K-9 units aboard military installations across America.

When Feed the Dawgs came to the Combat Center Nov. 7, they noticed the dog handlers aboard the installation did not have a grill at their kennel, said Jon Hemp, an Air Force Vietnam veteran, and one of the organization’s founders.

“K-9 units are such a tight-knit community,” Hemp said. “We thought they needed a grill for their kennel, so we went to the Home Depot and explained the situation, and here we are.”

When Vietnam Veterans came home, they never received any thanks, said Ray Carlton, an Air Force K-9 Vietnam veteran who co-founded Feed the Dawgs. Everyone in the organization wants to ensure the present generation of veterans understands their military service is appreciated.

“We try to make sure these kids come home to an ‘Oorah,’ not what we came home to in [Vietnam],” Carlton said.

“K-9 handlers share a bond that goes beyond explanation,” said Staff Sgt Joe Evans, PMO’s kennel master at the Combat Center. “It bridges services and spans generations. This event is proof of this.”

Since 2008, Feed the Dawgs has held 14 barbecues for military working dog handlers and their families from all the armed services.

“The members of Feed the Dawgs, the Vietnam K-9 Handlers Veterans Association and all of the K-9 handlers that came before us are the giants on whose shoulders we stand,” Evans said.

Carlton said they plan to continue this effort as long as possible.

“Where there’s a need, we try to fill it – that’s the bottom line,” he said.

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