Ellsworth A.F.B., South Dakota: Sgt. Bismarck and Shep - Air Force Mascots

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Ellsworth A.F.B., South Dakota - Sgt. Bismarck and Shep - Air Force Mascots

I retired from the USAF in 1968, stationed in 1950 at what was then Rapid City AFB, and arrived just in time for one of the worst winter storms in S.D. history. But I remember Master Sgt. Bismarck, who was not the only dog mascot on the base. Just as important was another dog named Shep. They did not like each other to say the least, did not fight, but just avoided each other.

Shep, a collie, was there first -- then on a trip to Bismark N.D., a flight crew kidnapped a St. Barnard, and so the name Bismarck.

Bismarck was a complete alcoholic, and would catch the base bus into Rapid City and visit the few bars in town where he could get free beer handouts from the troops inside. His beer drinking started out as just fun but it was not long before his trips into town were almost nightly. The next morning you could find him curled up close to a stove somewhere with blood shot eyes and a sour temper.

When Bismarck died, the small base paper had a cartoon which pictured Bismarck on a diving board above a large swimming pool filled with beer. Being there at the time, I don't buy the cremation story in your article. My son and I visited Elsworth after I retired and could not find any record of these two dogs.

[Carroll Johnson, 06/19/2011]

We're hoping someday a memorial will be erected at the base, and a sculpture of that pool cartoon sounds perfect.

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