Memories From Westover

Submitted By Roy A. Gallagher .

      It was the warm part of 1972; Westover AFB had deployed B-52s to Guam to support the war in Vietnam. The Weathermen had threatened to bomb an Air Force Base and extra security was added to the base.

     Jane Fonda and students from the University of Amherst targeted Westover AFB for civil protest. Their plan was to block the Main Gate and disrupt operations. Hanoi Jane would call ahead and notify the local police how many protesters would be coming each day to sit in front of the main gate. The Police would get enough busses to haul them away.

     Preparations were made for their arrival. We practiced the “stomp and drag” and had tear gas training. The day care center located just behind the main gate was turned into an alert area for the Security Police. SPs were assigned 24 hour shifts with everyone sleeping in uniform. Four K-9 teams were assigned with their canines sleeping with them or kenneled behind the building. The Gym was turned into a booking area.

     The Base Commander took good care of us. We had TVs and beds moved in. No box lunches, Chow Hall personnel had been assigned to us and were cooking on site (great BBQ). We even had ice cream.

     The protesters arrived. One at a time a protester would sit in front of the main gate and block traffic. The police were required to read each of them the law and then give them 5 minutes to move. The police would then remove the protester and the next one would take their place. With 30 to 40 protesters a day, this would stop traffic at the main gate for most of the day. Other gates were opened and business went on a usual.

     As the protesters arrived at the gate, SPs pulled razor concertina wire in front of the gate and came to raised pistol. The four canine teams would relieve the gate guards with canines a full leash. Then came the riot team doing the stomp and drag with unsheathed bayonets, followed by four SPs with tear gas. This had to be intimidating.

     After several days of this, Hanoi Jane demanded to know what we would do if they came on base. The base commander just told them “don’t even try and if you do, you won’t like it”. The local police spread rumors that we were just waiting to turn the canines on them and we helped keep the rumor going by agitating our dogs, keeping them barking.

     About 40 arrests were made a day but Jane Fonda never walked the walk, she jus talked the talk and never was arrested. No protesters were hurt and because of the professional demeanor of the Security Police, no protester ever tried to enter the base and business went on as usual.

     A1C Roy Gallagher and Patrol Dog Arin

     After a tour to Nakorn Phanom Thailand and Wurtsmith AFB Mi., Roy Gallagher left the Air Force in 1975 as SSgt and went to work for the U.S. Customs Service as a Canine Officer working on the San Diego, Tijuana Mexico border, retiring in January of 2006 with 36 years as a canine officer.

Roy Gallagher

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