Headquarters Battalion welcomes home dog handler
Staff Sgt. William Helton, 212th Military Police Detachment cuts the cake after his welcome home ceremony at Woodlawn Chapel Wednesday.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Fort Belvoir's Headquarters Battalion welcomed home two members of the 212th Military Police Detachment Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. William Helton and his specialized search dog, George, returned from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan this month.

While he was deployed, Helton was embedded with three different Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha teams.

Dave Reiter, Military Working Dog program manager for the Military District of Washington, spoke at the ceremony about the importance of Helton's experience with the Special Forces teams.

"We were able to see some of the caches and ordnances that were found and that information is important," Reiter said. "We can use those with our planning at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona and use them for our validations and certifications."

Helton was also influential in developing standard operating procedures and systems for the special ops teams to integrate dog teams into their daily combat operations, without hindering their objectives.

He also developed SOP's for other units that enhanced their fighting capabilities.

Helton and George teamed up on more than 70 combat missions over the 12-month period, which resulted in recovering six enemy caches and several storage facilities that housed more than 500 pieces of explosive ordnance.

In addition to his many missions, Helton mentored and assisted in combat advising for the Afghan National Army.

"We are very happy to have him and George back on the ground here in the States," Reiter said. "I am proud of him as I am with all of our dog handlers.

"You guys have great Soldiers in this unit here at Fort Belvoir," Reiter added.

Reiter presented Helton with two coins at the end of the ceremony: a Coin of Excellence and a MDW K9 coin.

Headquarters Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Kevin McKenna, also presented Helton with a gift from Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

Page last updated Thu August 20th, 2009 at 10:27