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With big paws to fill, K9 Raider joins Green Township Police Department, thanks to local veterans group

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

A veterans group with members from throughout the region got together to present a special gift to a local police department.

Green Township Police Department K9, Raider, and Officer Anthony Leidenbor are introduced to the members of the Hornet Breakfast Group (photos by Mark Hansel).

The Hornet Breakfast Group has been gathering at locations on the west side of Greater Cincinnati for more than 20 years.

Recently, the Green Township Police Department approached members to see if they could help raise money for a new K9 officer.

A few of the group’s leaders agreed, thinking a dog couldn’t be that expensive. What they didn’t realize is that a highly-trained police K9 actually came with a $10,000 pricetag.

Undaunted, the group went about the task of raising the money and formally welcomed the Green Township Police Department’s newest member at their monthly breakfast.

“We are just so grateful to the veterans for making this possible, said Green Township Police Chief James Vetter. “This is going to be an asset to the community and he’s going to do a good job for us.”

The new recruit, a Belgian Malinois is named Raider, in honor of the famed World War II Doolittle Raiders, who flew bombing missions over Tokyo from the deck of the USS Hornet aircraft carrier, under then-Col. Jimmy Doolittle

Raider has some big paws to fill.

He will assume the position previously held by Dino, a Belgian Malinois/Shepherd cross, who died unexpectedly in September during a foot pursuit of suspects.

“Dino was a tremendous working dog that had a great reputation,” Vetter said. “It was really hard on our department and really our whole community, the outpouring of grief was tremendous. This is a way for us to keep the K9 tradition in Green Township going.”

WWII veteran Bob Doolan, left, who was captured and held in the prison camp made famous in the movie, “The Great Escape,” speaks with members of the Green Township Police Department.

Raider will serve with K9 officer, Corp. Anthony Leidenbor, who was also Dino’s partner.

Leidenbor said he has been working with Raider, who lives with the officer, since October, and he is expected to be put into service in the next few weeks.

Leidenbor said he misses his old partner but is looking forward to developing a rapport with Raider.

“He is a dual-service animal and that means he will be able to track suspects and will also work as a drug detection dog,” Leidenbor said.

Raider was formally introduced to the Hornet Breakfast Group at the IHOP in Colerain Township, one of several meeting places the group has used over the years.

Ray Hughes, of Boone County, said the group was proud to have the opportunity to help the Green Township Police Department.

“These guys have all served their country at one time or another, and this is just a way for them to continue to serve the community,” Hughes said.

U.S. Army veteran David Brown of Middletown shares a story with members of the Hornet Breakfast Group.

Hughes was in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command from 1956 to 1960.

The Hornet Breakfast Group started in the early 1990s when a few veterans from the USS Hornet began to meet in Oxford, Ohio, under the direction and leadership of Ken Glass.

Over the years, the group membership has ebbed and flowed, but really picked up when veterans from all branches of the service were invited to join.

The group now includes more than 100 members that serve or have served from World War II until today.

Among those on hand Friday was 100-year-old Bob Doolan, who served in the U.S. Army Air Corp in WW II.

He was taken prisoner during the war and held at Stalag Luft III, which is better known to most as the POW camp made famous in the movie, “The Great Escape.”

Doolan, who said he was a lookout while in the camp, recalls that the movie was a pretty accurate depiction, with a few exceptions.

The famous Steve McQueen motorcycle chase was made up, as was the scene where James Garner and Donald Pleasence steal an airplane. He also said no Americans escaped from the prison camp.

“They had to put that in so American audiences would want to watch the movie,” Doolan said.

The Hornet Breakfast Group meets on the first Friday of every month and the attendance is usually right around 80 members.

Hughes said he became involved in the group through the late Maj. Thomas Griffin, who was from Cincinnati and was a pilot with the Doolittle Raiders.

“I was an escort for the Doolittle Raiders for a number of years and we traveled all over the United States,” Hughes said, “and I helped take care of (Griffin) as he got older.”

Griffin died in 2013 at the age of 96, in Fort Thomas, but some family members were on hand Friday and said naming the K9 Raider is a nice tribute.

Raising the $10,000 was a group effort, but it got a big assist from the Matt Haverkamp family, which donated $7,500 in memory of a family member.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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