The Story of Roscoe the
388th TFW's Dog
|ROSCOE-A LEGEND IN HIS OWN TIME By Sgt Doug Mason
Air Force nicknames might mean anything - DEEP FREEZE, PALACE FLICKS, REFORGER - but a recent staff letter about Roscoe
from Col. John C. M. des Islets, 388th Combat Support Group
commander, may have thrown newcomers for a loop. Especially the
lines which name this "project" as the only authorized pet on base.
Roscoe is a legend in his own time at Korat. The sandy-colored mongrel is the mascot of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, and the entire 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, for that matter. Before its deactivation recently, the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron was Roscoe's home.
Roscoe was a mangy stray when his original owner adopted him
from the streets of Korat City in August, 1965. Re-assignment to
Yokota AB, Japan, took master and mutt for a few months, until both returned to Korat in June 1966. Legend has given Roscoe his own fiery chariot from the skies he s rumored to have arrived in the cockpit of an F-105 Thud. Shortly thereafter, the young pilot who took Roscoe in was shot down over Vietnam, and Roscoe became a Korat institution.
Among the fighter squadrons, Roscoe is aptly known as a
"mighty duke" one who sleeps all day, flies and fights at night. He can usually be found dozing around the Officers Open Mess or the operations area in Fort Apache during the day, or in the evening "butter-flying" with one of his "tee-locks" or getting into dogfights.
Special privileges make this dog s life pretty comfortable.
Rooms may be called to attention when Roscoe enters, and the wing commander s seat in the Richter Hall briefing room is his for the
barking. He s a movie star, too an Air Force F-l05 film, "There is A Way," was filmed here and gives feature time to Roscoe.
The 34th has a special detail for its junior-ranking officer Roscoe Control. Nowadays, 1st Lt. Robert W. Hickson is responsible for the feeding, washing, keeping of shot updates, etc., to maintain a "code 1" dog while he waits for his master.
Official mascots are the only warm- blooded animals besides humans allowed on base. The 388th Security Squadron has a picture of Roscoe hanging in its operations section for positive identification. And in case 388th Munitions Maintenance Squadron people want to refute Roscoe s claim as "the only official mascot," their goats are authorized on the basis of grass-cutting ability not charm. Some time ago, the Korat Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) approach was named after him. Aircraft held in the "race track in the sky" were controlled by the Roscoe Initial Approach Fix.
Other historical records show that Roscoe used to follow the 469th's mission planner of the day through breakfast, briefings and take-off, then wait patiently for "his" Thud to return. During standup briefings for missions over North Vietnam, Roscoe s intuition was a cause of concern to the pilots. If he was asleep or bored, the missions would run smoothly, but if Roscoe s ears were perked it was considered a bad omen.
Nowadays, approaching old age, Roscoe is granted a few additional "bennies," with rides in the 34th IFS crew trucks at his disposal to and from Fort Apache or the Officers Club: At the club, he eats an exclusive diet of steak, usually obtaining his snack by quietly begging from table to table.
Treatment at the base veterinary clinic recently gave Roscoe relief from a serious case of heartworms and he s "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" now, though still stoically enduring some chronic ailments that would severely curtail any possible flying activities. But as Lieutenant Hickson says, "Roscoe s like an oldsoldier he ll never die, only fade away." Judging from all the tee-locks he s rumored to have, heart trouble should be the least
of Roscoe s worries for some time.
William C. Koch, Jr. USAF (Ret)