Heroes of the 4th FW: Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Welsh

  • Published
  • By Dr. Roy Heidicker
  • 4th Fighter Wing historian
The 4th Fighter Wing can trace its heritage back to the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons of World War II. 

During that time, the ranks of our storied organization have been filled with heroes of all kinds. Men and women, pilots and maintainers, leaders and followers, active-duty servicemembers, retirees, civilians, volunteers and POWs, have served this nation with dedication and gallantry. 

Today, the United States is fighting a worldwide war against terrorism. Never before have the stakes been higher. Our enemy is as ruthless as any adversary this nation has ever faced. Now more than ever, the wing needs patriots with the courage to do the heavy lifting. 

Recently, I had the rare privilege of meeting and speaking with a man whose actions epitomize the heroic heritage of the wing. A man whose deeds equal those of any hero who has ever served in the "Fourth but First" and whose qualities represent the very finest attributes of America's fighting men and women. 

Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Welsh is a canine handler with the 4th Security Forces Squadron. His partner, a Dutch Shepherd named Carlos, is such a powerful and assertive dog that only Sergeant Welsh can work with him. Together they form a team that has saved hundreds - possibly thousands - of American lives. When not saving lives they forthrightly and efficiently take the fight to the enemy. 

When I met Sergeant Welsh, I knew I was in the presence of a true warrior. He has a quiet, powerful confidence about him that is simultaneously intimidating and reassuring. Intimidating in that he is obviously capable of wielding great power to overcome any obstacle and accomplish any goal. Reassuring in that he uses his power as a shield to protect our nation and as a sword to strike against our enemies. 

Since 1999, Sergeant Welsh has deployed seven times, four of those with a canine. This single man and his dog have accomplished so much that it defies belief. In fact, a tally of his recent accomplishments reads almost like science fiction. 

During World War II, a book about 4th Fighter Group ace Don Gentile titled 'One Man Air Force' was published. Today, in the Global War on Terror, that title would read 'One Man Air Force and His Dog Carlos.' 

The following are just a few of the things Sergeant Welsh and Carlos have accomplished. They conducted critical K-9 explosive detection on over one hundred combat patrols in Iraq. Just one of these patrols netted 30 rifles, 10 machine guns, two improvised explosive devices, and 15 rocket-propelled grenades. In another patrol, they seized 700 anti-personnel mines in an apartment in downtown Baghdad. Sergeant Welsh credited Carlos with saving hundreds of lives with that seizure. 

In a 45-minute firefight, Sergeant Welsh destroyed a dozen attacking insurgents, providing a safe retrograde for his unit. He conducted an explosives sweep while under direct fire during an ambush on an Army supply convoy. Sergeant Welsh also rescued a convoy struck by an IED. 

When he's not saving lives and fighting the enemy, Sergeant Welsh continuously works to improve his skills. He completed the combat lifesaver course, the military operations in urban terrorism course and other difficult and vigorous courses. In addition, he earned his bachelor's degree in architectural engineering and is enrolled in a master's degree program. 

Like other heroes of the 4th FW, Sergeant Welsh volunteers his time to support multiple causes. He has spoken to 70 high schools' ROTC students, delivered meals to the elderly and distributed $5,000 in books and school supplies to Iraqi elementary schools. 

Sergeant Welsh is an exemplary warrior, teacher and humanitarian. He is a shining example of today's heroes who are fighting the war of our time. This knight of compassion stands alongside John Godfrey, George Davis, Robbie Risner and all of the greatest heroes of the 4th FW. Our wing and our nation are fortunate to have him fighting for our way of life.