Aircraftman Matt Martin puts military working dog Chase through the obedience and agility course.
Former Upper Hutt man Matt Martin is one of the latest trainees to graduate from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Military Working Dogs Hander training course.
Aircraftman Martin, 21, grew up in Upper Hutt and attended Upper Hutt College. After working full-time for a year he saw that the RNZAF was recruiting trainee pilots.
He missed out on that selection but was offered a place as an operator in the Force Protection Unit, starting in January last year.
“I was keen to join the Air Force for the lifestyle and the possible travel,” Aircraftman Martin said.
After completing junior trade training in Force Protection he was posted to Auckland and in June this year was selected as a trainee dog handler.
He was teamed up with military working dog Chase, a four-year-old Belgian Shepherd or Malinois, for the 12-week training course at the RNZAF Base in Whenuapai.
“It’s a great job to have because you are working with your dog for eight to nine hours each day. That way you develop a strong bond with your dog,” he said.
“During the training course we have been putting in long hours with the dogs, training both during the day and at night.”
Military Working Dog Co-ordinator Sergeant Peter Barrass said that during the training course Aircraftman Martin had trained in all aspects of military working dog training, including obedience, agility, patrol clearances, apprehension procedures, basic canine first aid, and operating on deployment.
“Throughout the course he was tested and assessed on all skills required and has now graduated as an operational military working dog handler.”
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Military Working Dog Unit at Whenuapai. It was formed in 1967 to provide enhanced security for the new P3 Orion aircraft.
As well as providing security for RNZAF assets and personnel in New Zealand, the dogs have been used to support overseas operations and numerous exercises in Australia and New Zealand.