RAAF Dog Handler Remembers Animals in War on Anzac Day

Ian Fletcher reflects on his service in the RAAF working with dogs.
Ian Fletcher reflects on his service in the RAAF working with dogs.

 

THIS week we feature former RAAF member and now Medowie local, Mr Ian Fletcher who served 16 years in the Australian Defence Force from 1979 to 1995.

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At last week’s Medowie Dawn Service, Mr Fletcher laid a wreath to honour animals in war, specifically the work of military dogs.

News Of The Area spoke with Mr Fletcher to hear about his experiences.

On the topic of RAAF dogs, Mr Fletcher said, “They are not just issued equipment, they are a formidable part of the team.”

“As handlers we spent more time with our dogs than we did with our family.”

“We put our trust in their hands, rather paws, as they put their lives and trust in us.”

“It is a unique bond between handler and dog, a bond that can never be broken nor trust ever questioned.”

“I believe that all animals of all conflicts should be remembered for their part as they all have, and continue to play an integral part in our military operations.”

The purple poppy, an addition to the traditional red poppy commonly worn on Remembrance Day, commemorates animals who have served and died in conflict zones.

Many animals are used for war service, such as horses, pigeon, camels, donkeys and arguably the most loyal of all, dogs.

Mr Fletcher explains his respect for man’s (and, woman’s) best friend saying, “I joined the RAAF in 1979 and went on to be a RAAF Security Guard and Police Dog Handler.”

“There were a number of name changes over the time including RAAF Police Dog Handler, before the ADF settled on the current name of Military Working Dogs.”

“Our role was to provide security, emergency response, and intruder detection on RAAF Bases protecting aircraft and military assets whilst also being deployed around the world.”

“These days the dogs are sent overseas and are able to return.”

“During my time and earlier times, due to quarantine laws our dogs were not returned home, so we often deployed overseas without the dog.”

“To me, Anzac Day is more than just remembering my family, Great Uncle, Grandfather WWI, my Uncle who was a POW Sandakan, and my father who served RAAF Special Wireless Unit, Central Bureau of Intelligence, it is also about remembering those who have made sacrifices and of course, those of our brothers and sisters that continue to serve.”

“It’s also about acknowledging those who have returned, but may also continue with their own struggles.”

 

By Heather SHARP

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