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Kelly and Kevin

Hi my name is L/Cpl Wolstencroft (Kelly) I am 25 years old and I have been in the Army for 4 years as a dog handler for the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. I studied Animal Care/Management for 4 years at Myerscough College before I joined up in 2007 and was posted to 103 Military Working Dog SQN in Germany where I am currently still based. My first tour of Afghanistan (Herrick 9) was in 2008/9 where I was a Vehicle Search (VS) Dog handler. This time around I have deployed on Herrick 14 as a High Assurance Search Dog (HASD) handler and my Dog is called “Kevin” who may I add is the most mischievous dog in the whole of Helmand!! I’m sure you will agree after reading all of his antics which are bound to end up on my blog throughout our tour together! If he isn’t breaking into my locker and ripping up every T-Shirt I brought out here with me, you’ll be sure to find him dragging one of the C-IED searchers across an ICP by their goggles. We have been a team for the past 8 months and have previously deployed to Jordan for an MRX in December last year so like true partners in crime we know each other well and know what annoys one another… although this doesn’t stop him doing any of them!

Midnight on Saturday the 5th of March 2011 we deployed from Germany together to start the gruelling journey to Afghanistan on a C17. We arrived in Camp bastion on Sunday night on the 6th at 20:15 where we were met by 104 SQN (the SQN we were to take over from), who took Kevin and the rest of the dogs to the kennels while we sorted ourselves out into bed spaces etc. After doing the normal arrivals paperwork I got my hands on a SAT phone and managed to give my Girlfriend Kate and my Mum Janet a quick call to let them know all was well.

The next morning I woke up and we went straight to the kennels to exercise the dogs, it was strange walking through Bastion again and seeing how much this place has grown since the last time I was here in 2008/9, we only had Bastion 1 back then and Bastion 2 was still under construction and mainly occupied by other nations, now in 2011 Bastion 2 is fully formed and Bastion 3 is established and growing by the day! As I walked around I seen things that were still in the same places that they were on Herrick 9, like the old kennels and the cook houses (tents) which was also quite strange because once I finished my tour back then I kind of put this place to the back of my mind, while all the time it’s all still been here and getting used in the same way while I was back home in barracks, on leave or on holiday… but it’s plain to see that even tho we had left, our job here was/is far from over! So here I am again to start the 6month and 21day tour all over again!

The next few days 7th-13th we attended RSOI where we were updated on all the recent threats outside the wire etc, RSOI was what i was dreading as it was death by power point on my last tour but if I’m honest even though I was tired for the first week, the RSOI package was excellent and I found myself very interested in most of the briefs! However I was still itching to get RSOI behind me so I could concentrate on starting work with Kevin and seeing how he would cope with the desert conditions and heat.

On the 10th of March 2011 we got up at 0300 and paraded on the Flight Line to say our goodbyes to Liam (L/Cpl Tasker) and pay our respects as his coffin was carried past us, up the ramp and onto the plane. The last post was played and this was when most people broke down, myself included. Then the tail closed and we marched away. When I looked over my shoulder as I walked off the flight line and the engines were powering up, it really hit me that Liam was gone. Saying bye to Liam and cracking on with work the very same day was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but we had no choice, if the dogs were going to be ready in time for 104 SQN to leave and finish their gruelling tour, we HAD to get on with it!!

It’s a few weeks on from when we first arrived here now and things are starting to come together, the dogs are slowly but surely getting used to the change of climate and the guys have adapted well to working in the heat, although trying to train dogs in this heat can be quite testing, esp if your dog’s name is Kevin!! However the scope for training facilities for the dogs here in Bastion are excellent, with a little imagination and knowing the right people you can have a training session with your dog which actually mimics to a tee the kind of searches you will be tasked to conduct outside the wire and this is filling the guys with confidence in their dogs. Basically if your dog can do it in here, then they can sure as hell do it out there!!

As I write this it’s the 30th of March 2011 and 104 Sqn have returned back to the UK for some much needed leave and 103 Sqn have taken over operational duties here in Afghanistan. Most of the guys are licenced with their dogs now and out on the ground (outside the wire) doing what they do best and living by big boy rules (sat in a FOB/PB wearing tailored hats, shorts, flip flops, topping up their tans with no suncream on and growing as much facial hair as physically possible) while waiting for their next tasking.

Kevin and I and a few other teams on the other hand are still in Camp Bastion doing some extra dog training and living by what is known as “Camp Rat Rules”, wearing factor 50 and untailored floppy hats, well I’m wearing factor 50 as my untailored floppy hat gives enough shade for Kevin to utilise too! Big boy rules are within arms reach though as the dogs are looking good and if Kevin pulls his socks up and stops locking himself in iso containers and just being “kevin” in general, then we should be licenced in no time.

Hopefully the next time I write my blog Kevin and I should be licenced, tanning ourselves and getting massive in a FOB or PB somewhere in Helmand, wish us luck…

Kelly and Kevin xx

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter Willaims permalink
    April 5, 2011 18:31

    This is an excellent article, it just shows how much our troops are doing out in the ‘sand pit’ along with their canine troops, good luck to both Kelly and Kevin and I can’t wait to read the following instalments.

  2. Peter Willaims permalink
    April 5, 2011 20:11

    Further to my previous comment, I can sympathize with Kelly concerning how Kevin behaves, our youngest daughter once had a dog called Busby who would get into her knicker draw and somehow get a pair onto his head and run around all day like that when he was left alone. He also had a liking for matches and babies teething gel, he would eat the matches by the box full and also eat a full tube of the gel and then sit with his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth.

  3. Kate (Very Proud Girlfriend) permalink
    April 5, 2011 21:47

    First off i hope when your living by ‘Big Boy Rules’ you arent trying to grow as much facial hair as possible!😉 I’m so proud of you baby and reading this i’m even prouder to be your girlfriend. This has given me something to smile about and i cant wait to hear more about that little rascal! You and the rest of 103 stay safe, and come home soon.. Missing you always gorgeous.. I Love You xxx

  4. michelle permalink
    April 5, 2011 22:44

    Only you Kell, all the best to you all and stay safe. xx Can’t wait to read your next postings, and hear all the joys that Kevin has yet to bring you🙂 haha iso cabinet i actually got an image of it. hehe. bless. Love to all and keep in touch. xx

  5. Auntie Deb permalink
    April 6, 2011 02:09

    I love this Blog Kel! Kevin makes me giggle he really reminds me of your beloved dog Tyson that you had growing up with all the mischief. This is such a great way to get a insight of what you are doing out there and makes us all feel a bit closer to you. You are all so brave and doing a great job. I am sure your stories of Kevin are going to give us some giggles but I am sure he wil do a great job for you. We are all so proud of you Kelly and love you loads. Take good care and stay safe x x

  6. April 6, 2011 14:35

    Ace blog post Kel!🙂 We’re all missing you and really proud of you back home so it’s great to have a page to keep an eye on what you’re up to. Stay safe and give Kevin a pat from me🙂 xx

  7. April 6, 2011 20:30

    Bratdog (an alsation who has a LOT in common with Kevin, sounds like!) said I had to comment here..

    We look forward to reading of your adventures as you serve. And yes, I WILL be sharing them…:)

    THANK you for your service. Know that many around the world have you ALL in our prayers, and are so proud of you. Stay safe.

  8. Bob permalink
    April 6, 2011 20:55

    Ve safe both of you

  9. April 6, 2011 23:27

    all the best the 2 of you, stay safe.

    i’ve linked your blog to Liveleak as there is a lot of serving and ex-services squaddies there that will enjoy your blog, and be giving you mountains of support.

  10. Jane Ennis permalink
    April 7, 2011 14:13

    Great reading kelly, good luck to you and kevin, hope you get licenced and look forward to reading the next blog. look after yourselves, Jane xx

  11. Grant Cook permalink
    April 9, 2011 13:20

    Great blog Kelly.
    You are doing a fantastic job out there in horrible conditions for you self and your hound .
    Keep safe and take care .
    PS. Say hi to my daughter if you see her out there, Charlottes cook Dad.
    God bless to all our troops on herrick 14
    So proud of you all .

  12. Janet Eaton (mum) permalink
    April 14, 2011 13:43

    Kelly i’m so proud and pleased you will be doing this blog so we can keep up with all you and the other brave soldiers and canines are doing for our country, i feel closer to you reading this as i’m sure Kate and all our family do….your doing a very brave job and doing it well! as are all the others there….stay safe my little soldier i love you more than words can say xxxxxxxxx

  13. andy w permalink
    June 4, 2011 16:21

    In Bastion as well, is there do you need any help walking him, give me a a shout experinced dog handler , now working for NAAFI in B2.

    • June 5, 2011 14:51

      Hi Andy, I will contact you via your Hotmail address and provide you with more details. Regards, Nick (editor)

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