Veteran of the Month Vance McCrumb


By Milan Eagle Media

Vance McCrumb was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1943. His grandfather served in WWI, his two uncles served in WWII and his brother served in Vietnam. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1962. Prior to his graduation he enlisted (deferred) in the Air Force and after graduation he slept till noon for 6 months then reported to his recruiter in January 1963. When asked why that branch of the military his answer was “his love of airplanes”.
Vance was sent to Lackland Air Force Base for basic training, Air Police and Sentry Dog Training. About half way through the Air Police school he interviewed to become a Sentry Dog Handler. He received orders to go to Wake Island but those orders were cancelled when he was accepted into K-9 training.
He was paired up with his first dog, Casey. Casey was a green dog and not previously trained so he had to learn how to train her.
Upon graduation from Sentry Dog School Vance was assigned to Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, a Strategic Air Command Base, Headquarters 11th Strategic Aerospace Wing 11th Combat Support Group. B-52 aircraft, Atlas ICBM missiles and nuclear weapons storage areas.
The K-9 teams at Altus were charged with security of those critical areas from dusk to dawn. Visiting dignitaries were frequently brought to the kennels for a k-9 demonstration. They even put on a demo for aUSO group and some German officers.
In May or June 1965 the Air Force asked for volunteers to go to Vietnam. Unaware of what was in store Vance and his best buddy Mike volunteered.
Vance, Mike and their dogs were sent back to Lackland Sentry Dog School for evaluation. The first clue to what was in store was receiving orders authorizing them to hand carry weapons to Vietnam. They learned they’d be charged with proving that Sentry Dogs could adapt to conditions in Vietrnam and secure the perimeter of critical air bases and bomb dumps during the darkness hours. This would be the first time dogs were used by American troops in Vietnam. The operation was called Project Top Dog XLV. Vance and his second dog, Dutch were going to Vietnam. They were part of 40 guys, the first group to take dogs into Vietnam.
Working at night left their days free so occasionally during the day they’d go to the exchange and buy candy to take to the orphanages
Their K-9 success expanded the program. When it became time for Vance to start the process to return to the states he choose and trained a new handler for Dutch.
After tour in Vietnam Vance returned to Altus Air Force Base where he took over Teddy, his third dog.
In January 1967 Vance was discharged and came back to Michigan and lived in Willis. In 1969 Vance married and in 1973 they moved to Milan.
Vance worked for Michigan Bell until the government divested to AT&T. In 1990 he retired from AT&T and currently he’s employed by Precision Devices with plans to retire soon,
He has been married 38 years and their daughter, a Milan graduate, has 6 children and lives in Montana and his son , also a Milan graduate has 2 children and lives in Michigan.
His hobbies are his grandchildren, veteran affairs and photography.
Vance is active in Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 310 as well as VFW Post 423, both in Ann Arbor. His VVA Chapter was twice the VVA National Chapter Of The Year and their newsletter was 4 times VVA National Newsletter Of The Year and 3 of the 4 years he edited the newspaper. He has severed in various positions.
Vance says, “ I think of Dutch every day , Vietnam lingers in my mind.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login