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Citizen Airman and partner protect traveling citizens

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel Nathaniel
  • 624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs
For some Reservists, service to country does not end when the Battle Dress Uniform comes off after a drill weekend. Some return to their civilian occupations to don a different uniform. 

Master Sgt. Tara Corse, 48th Aerial Port Squadron 1st Sergeant, is an example of such a Citizen Airman. 

As a teenager in Worcester, Mass., trying to figure out her future, Corse knew two things - She loved training dogs and she wanted to become a cop. 

Putting the two together would be the best of both worlds. 

While exploring her possibilities, she discovered that becoming a K-9 cop as a rookie was not possible at county and state police departments. It was at the time possible to become one through the military. 

She discussed the matter with her father, a retired Army Colonel, who gave her two options - She could join the Air Force or she could join the Air Force. So, following her father's advice she joined the Air Force in 1994. 

To enter the K-9 Corps meant passing an additional evaluation above and beyond her training as a Security Policeman. 

One particular test had applicants imagine that their knee was a dog and they were to
praise their knee in front of the whole class for two minutes. 

"It was hilarious watching people do it," she said. "But you could see that some people had drive and some people didn't." 

When it was her turn, Airman Corse knew what was expected of her as she had been training dogs since high school. 

With all the spirit she could muster, she praised her knee in a high-pitched voice cooing
such things as, "Woo puppy puppy, you are a good puppy" and "You are so wonderful" 

"You got to go crazy," she said. "I rolled around and had a great old time with my knee." 

This is the sort of quality the instructors wanted to see in an applicant because dogs work for praise, love and affection. If potential handlers can't show those qualities the dog will not work them. 

Becoming a K-9 officer took Corse to assignments at MacDill AFB, Fla., Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and finally Minot AFB, N.D. 

While at Minot she decided to separate from active duty to return home to her husband in Hawaii and take a position with the Transportation Security Administration. 

The transition to TSA was not a difficult one for Corse as many of its handlers come from the military. 

"Tara was highly recommended," said Ronald Ome, unit supervisor. 

She was well known in the dog handler community on Oahu from her time at Hickam, he said. 

After all these years Corse knows exactly what is it that she appreciates the most about her work. 

"I get to work with dogs all day," she said. "I am a dog lover, I am an animal lover, I am a bona fide tree hugger. I absolutely love animals and I am thrilled every day to work with
my dog."