getthumbnail-11Marines use minesweepers as one way to search for improvised explosive devices buried in roads here. Ringo the dog is another one. 

“If it wasn’t for Ringo, a lot of our trucks would have hit IEDs,” said Lance Cpl. Leonard Valdez, 21, a radio operator from Santa Ana, Calif. “We have been real lucky having Ringo around.”

Marines with Combined Anti-Armor Team 2, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, have been given the task of keeping a road known as “Red Dog” free from IEDs.

One group from CAAT 2 occupies an observation post called “Fortress 93.” It is one of many observation posts that make up the picket line along Red Dog. After vehicle convoys ran into trouble with IEDs being planted earlier this year, CAAT teams were fielded to address the issue.

“The picket line was put in place so we could stop IEDs from being planted on Red Dog,” said Lance Cpl. Dan Guider, 22, an infantry assaultman from Woodbury, Minn. “Since it was set up, there haven’t been any IEDs.”

When the Marines moved into their current positions, Ringo came with them. Along with his handler, Lance Cpl. William Childs, Ringo sniffs out explosive materials that have been placed by enemy insurgents along main roads used by 1/5.

Marines with CAAT 2 provide security for vehicle convoys that resupply 1/5’s forward operating positions, but sweeping for mines and IEDs is a daily occurrence for Ringo and the Marines.

Within the past three months Ringo has sniffed out 10 IEDs. His most recent find, Sept. 20, included five separate IEDs. It was during a re-supply convoy. CAAT 2 Marines were sweeping a road using Ringo and uncovered the first two IEDs.

“After Ringo found the first two in the road, a sweep team was sent out and they found three more,” said Childs, 21, who hails from Santa Cruz, Calif. “If Ringo had missed the first two, we would have just kept going. He saved some lives that day.”

Ringo and Childs have been a team for 10 months now. Childs was originally an assaultman but became a dog handler after completing a five week course.

“They taught us all about how to use them (the dogs) to conduct sweeps,” Childs said. “We learned how to take care of the dogs, do things like treat battle wounds and ways to keep them healthy in this environment.”

1/5’s Weapons Company only has two dogs and dog handlers at different locations, so Ringo and Childs are constantly working. Whenever a patrol goes out from Fortress 93 or a resupply convoy needs a nearby road swept for bombs, Ringo and Childs are there.

He does his best to train Ringo as often as possible but doesn’t want to wear the dog out, Childs explained. Ringo is the only dog for the CAAT teams with 1/5, so both Childs and his dog are on almost every patrol and convoy.

Childs and Ringo continue to maintain their constant work flow, providing 1/5 with a valuable skill that saves lives and defeats the enemy’s attempts to injure Marines.

“I love being a dog handler,” he said. “It is a lot of work but it is all worth it when you know that you’re making a difference.”

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