Claggett, Rick

Rick Claggett was born March 19, 1947,  not too far from Philadelphia.  Rick grew up against the backdrop of the “Fabulous 50s” – and the Cold War.  By his account he lived a good life, enjoying the outdoor life and just being a child in postwar America.  Vietnam entered the American consciousness in 1964-65; initially Rick was at Penn State and received a deferment.  He also happened to be a Quaker – and thus a member of a pacifist faith.  Even so the draft board picked his number in 1969, and even though Rick was married at that point he decided to go.  His first stop was Fort Dix, followed by Fort Polk; the army had tried to talk him into being an officer, but Rick was not interested.  He was sent to Fort Gordon next, to train with tracker dogs, and on his deployment to Vietnam he was assigned to the 148th Infantry Scout Battalion, and assigned his scout dog Big Boy.  Big Boy was a German Shepherd who saved Rick’s life – and the lives of other soldiers on a number of occasions. He’d accompany the men when on patrol, alerting them to booby traps and potential ambushes.  Rick spent that year in Vietnam developing a mutualistic relationship with Big Boy:  the two of them took care of and looked out for one another.  When Rick’s tour of duty was up, he watched Big Boy handed over to the South Vietnamese army, while many other scout and tracker dogs were euthanized.  Rick returned home safely, back to his wife and family and grad school, putting Vietnam behind him.  Rick joined Crestwood students over zoom in May 2023.