47th IPSD Platoon Commanders

stanley c. stockdale * roberto l. miller * james m. bradshaw * thomas s. thorpe * john r.d. van clief, jr.

During its service in Vietnam the 47th Scout Dog Platoon was led by five Platoon Commanders. These Officers held the rank of 1st Lieutenant and reported directly to the 101st Airborne Division Second Brigade Commander.


Stanley C. Stockdale

Served as Platoon Commander May 27, 1968 to November 23, 1968

As the 47th's first Platoon Commander, Stanley Stockdale was responsible for initial personnel selection and went through the 13-week Scout Dog Training program at Fort Benning, Georgia with his men and dogs before the unit's deployment to Vietnam. Upon the platoon's arrival, Lt. Stockdale oversaw the 47th's quarrantine of dogs near Saigon, the one-month training period at Bien Hoa, and the move north to support the 101 Airborne's Second Brigade out of LZ Sally. At Sally, the 47th established it's base camp and began combat missions. Initially, the platoon suffered numerous casualties and lost its first member when handler Marvin R. Pearce was KIA. Read Stockdale's 02/15/2000 recollection of this event by clicking here. Lt. Stoockdale ordered the use of a mission assignment board to rotate dog teams when they were called for. He arranged a scout dog demonstration for Brigade officers to educate them about the teams' capabilities and limitations and how they could be effectively utilized. In 2002, at the Fort Benning dedication of Pedestals at the War Dog Memorial, Stockdale gave the keynote address --- read his speech here.

Since his return to civilian life Stockdale has spread the story about the dogs and handlers in Vietnam. He has made presentations to colleges, high schools, middle schools, dog groups, and various other groups. In November of 2018 he recorded a conversation about his Army and Vietnam experiences which was published on StoryCorps, a non-profit organization connected with the Library of Congress that is capturing the lives and times of Americans, and creating an invaluable archive for future generations. Stockdale recounts how he volunteered for military service, his training, how he came to train with and command the 47th, the scout dogs' capabilities and how they were used in Vietnam, and other first-hand experiences.

Click below to listen to Stockdale's fascinating conversation:      

Reproduced with permission of Stanley Stockdale and StoryCorps, copyright 2018. May not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without prior written permission.


Roberto L. Miller

Lt. Roberto L. Miller (right), served as Platoon Commander November 23, 1968 to July 31, 1969

Miller was a 10 year NCO Sergeant before earning his commission thru Officer Candidate School. After serving as a Tactical Officer at OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was assigned as the replacement commander for the 47th IPSD. Lt. Miller began his leadership of the 47th by emphasizing training and the proper use of dog teams in the field. Lt. Miller oversaw the erection of signs at the 47th's base area to declare the area as "Camp Marvin R. Pearce" in memory of the first 47th handler KIA and also to proclaim the 47th Scout Dog Platoon as "The Pride of the Second Brigade." He conducted a short memorial service for KIA handler Gary Gene Detrick in the platoon area. During Miller's tenure the platoon began working with Combat Tracker Teams and deployed handlers who worked with their dogs off-leash. In April of 1970 the 47th was put in for the Valorous Unit Citation by the 1/502nd Infantry and Lt. Miller nominated the unit for the Meritorious Unit Award.

James M. Bradshaw

Served as Platoon Commander July 31, 1969 to April 1, 1970

When the unit was short teams, Lt. Bradshaw became the only Platoon Commander to serve missions n the field with a Scout Dog. He worked with the Brigade S-3 to ensure the proper utilization of the Scout Dog teams. He established a liason with an ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Scout Dog Platoon and the 47th gave advice and assistance for their establishment of a scout dog training program. In early 1970, Bradshaw oversaw the 47th's move from LZ Sally to Phu Bai, a 101st camp located just south of Hue. To view video taken by Bradshaw during his 1969 tour with the 47th click here.

Thomas S. Thorpe

Lt. Thomas Thorpe, served as Platoon Commander April 1, 1970 to September ??, 1970

Under Thorpe's command mine dog teams were added to the platoon and in April of 1970 began serving missions in support of the 2/327th Infantry Battalion.. The Army conducted a Command Maintenance Management Inspection (CMMI) and the 47th passed with a satisfactory rating. Thorpe made the Army a career and advanced to the rank of Colonel before retiring.

John R.D. Van Clief Jr

Served as Platoon Commander September ??, 1970 to July 21, 1971

Lt. Van Clief had to deal with drug usage by some members of the unit and his term was marred by the fragging murder of his Platoon Sergeant, SFC Angel Diaz . An Army investigation was conducted and one of the platoon members was detained but never charged. Van Clief was able to keep his platoon together and eventually see the unit return to normal activity. In July of 1971 he oversaw the 47th's standown and assisted in the transfer of dogs and materiel. To read Van Clief's May 2009 e-mail detailing his personal recollections of the Diaz incident and other platoon events click here.

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