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Air Power veteran Curtis Hendel spent his days as Navy Working Canine handler – The Globe

ADRIAN — When Curtis Hendel talks about his army profession within the US Air Power, it turns into rapidly evident that his tour of responsibility wasn’t one thing he needed to do, however one thing he wished to do.

Trying again by his household tree, he had some relations who served their nation throughout World Struggle II, however his personal journey into army service stemmed from ride-alongs he did with a neighborhood legislation enforcement officer and his K9.

A 1985 graduate of Adrian Excessive College, Hendel dreamed of changing into a Navy Working Canine Handler, coaching K9s to work in all branches of the army, in addition to in civilian settings. The K9s have been skilled in every little thing from obedience to managed aggression, discovering and finding people, and even to smell out narcotics and explosives.

It is the kind of army job that maybe would not sound like a job, however extra of an journey. And there was stiff competitors amongst army recruits to make the reduce.

Hendel left southwest Minnesota in the summertime of 1985, sure for primary coaching at Lackland Air Power Base in San Antonio, Texas.

“The Air Power was the perfect to get into legislation enforcement with a assured job,” Hendel defined. “However there was no assure you may develop into a canine handler.”

After his choice to the K9 unit, Hendel remained at Lackland AFB for K9 faculty, spending six and a half months on the southern Texas air base.

Curtis Hendel, Adrian, is proven with Valley, a German Shepherd used as a coaching support for brand new handlers at Lackland Air Power Base in San Antonio, Texas.

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He then was assigned to be a patrol canine handler at Osan Air Base in South Korea. Each evening, he and his canine labored the perimeter of the air base to ensure no unauthorized folks entered.

“It was a one-year tour, however proper earlier than I used to be supposed to come back again, I prolonged for a second tour as a result of I did not wish to go away my canine ​​behind,” Hendel shared.

On the finish of his second yr, Hendel returned to Lackland AFB to work within the Navy Working Canine coaching program. It was right here that trainers have been assigned to work with three to 5 canines every day and get them prepared for his or her final assignments.

The canines — primarily German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois — have been introduced in from Europe with some coaching.

“We completed coaching to convey them as much as our requirements,” Hendel mentioned.

Working with the canines each on and off leash, they realized their obedience instructions and have been skilled to do particular duties that might be required of them for his or her army function.

Again then, canine handlers did not have chunk fits or the protecting gear accessible at present.

“We had a heavy burlap wrap on one arm,” Hendel mentioned with amusing. “You had to ensure the canine discovered the suitable spot.”

A part of being a handler is constructing belief together with your K9, however throughout managed aggression (chunk work) coaching, the handlers did not simply work with their very own canines, however served as decoys for the opposite canines as properly.

“I solely obtained a number of good bites in all my years — three or 4 that required me to go to the hospital to get them cleaned out,” Hendel mentioned. “I had mates of mine who obtained a bit a lot, a lot worse. It was only a threat related to the canine.”

Throughout his six years within the army, Hendel mentioned a number of of the canines he skilled went on to carry out perimeter patrol at bases for asset safety, whereas others went on to coach in narcotics or explosives.

Whereas Hendel loved working with all canines, he mentioned it was the persona of German Shepherds that he actually appreciated. And since he skilled three to 5 canines at a time, it wasn’t tough to see them advance and begin with a brand new set of canines.

“I used to be simply there to regulate their conduct and convey them as much as our requirements,” Hendel mentioned. “You knew that is what you have been doing with them, and with that many canines, you by no means made an enormous connection.”

That wasn’t the case, although, with the canine he served with in South Korea.

“(That canine) I mourn to this present day,” he mentioned. “After I obtained him, he nonetheless had numerous points to repair. When he was tuned, he was higher than any human.”

After his six-year army profession got here to an finish, Hendel returned to southwest Minnesota with the hopes of building a canine coaching enterprise.

“There weren’t numerous canines within the space and there simply weren’t sufficient canines to make it work,” he mentioned.

For a time, he raised bloodhounds, and was truly known as in to help with a seek for a toddler who turned misplaced in a cornfield close to New Ulm. His canines of him have been profitable to find the little tyke. In one other name for help, Hendel and his bloodhounds situated the physique of a person who drowned in a river.

Today, the one canine ​​Hendel and his spouse have is the granddog they ceaselessly take care of. Their son obtained a Boston terrier two years in the past, and the pooch spends weekdays with Hendel’s spouse, who works remotely.

As for Hendel, life after the army included doing carpentry together with his dad for a number of years, then working for a grain and livestock farmer for 22 years. 4 and a half years in the past, he was employed by the Nobles County Public Works division and spends his days engaged on the roads.

Hendel mentioned he isn’t a man who has many regrets, however the one factor he shared is that he did not admire the army uniform as a lot when he wore it as he does at present. Again then, it was simply his occupation of him, he mentioned.

Apart from Hendel’s full-time job, the present commander of Adrian’s American Legion spent greater than a decade engaged on a particular venture to acknowledge veterans from western Nobles County.

The fruits of that venture is a ebook Hendel accomplished 4 years in the past known as “Our Veterans: Braveness, Dedication and Service.” The ebook was printed by the Nobles County Evaluate, with whom Hendel collaborated to profile veterans as soon as per 30 days within the newspaper.

“I feel it was a couple of 14-year course of,” Hendel mentioned of the knowledge gathering. The venture started when a Korean Struggle veteran from Adrian died and Hendel requested if he may write one thing for the paper about his service.

That led to the concept of ​​that includes as many space veterans as they may — some 500 in all from communities and farms between Rushmore, Wilmont, Adrian, Ellsworth and Lismore.

“It is veterans of all years … from western Nobles County,” Hendel mentioned. “We mixed them in a ebook — it turned out being a really distinctive venture.”

Copies of the ebook are nonetheless accessible for buy from the Nobles County Evaluate or the Adrian American Legion.

“I went by years price of papers to get data on folks’s service time,” Hendel mentioned. “I in all probability discovered 100 of them that means.”

Whereas Hendel mentioned the venture was overwhelming at instances, he felt a bit unhappy when the final web page was accomplished.

“However, it was actually satisfying to see the completed product,” he added.

The completion of the ebook occurred the identical yr by which Hendel was named commander of the Adrian American Legion, which boasts 80-some veteran members.

Along with his function there, Hendel speaks now and again about his service and time within the army. He’ll function the visitor speaker of Adrian’s Veterans Day program, which is slated to start at 9:30 am Friday within the Adrian Excessive College gymnasium.

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