04/01/09 — Coffee, a sausage biscuit ... and the vice president

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Coffee, a sausage biscuit ... and the vice president

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 1, 2009 5:58 PM

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Kenneth Fine

Something funny happened along the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base flight line this morning long before Vice President Joe Biden's plane touched down.

And it nearly went unnoticed.


It started with a thermos full of coffee, one that, not surprisingly, tipped over when it was left standing upright in the back of the media van by a member of the White House press staff.

Little did she know that as the van made its way to the flight line, hot decaf was soaking News-Argus staff photographer Mitch Loeber's camera bag.

He got the news shortly after the van was parked and quipped, "Well, I guess if I need any coffee I can just suck it out of the fabric on my camera bag."

The comment drew a few laughs, but the punch line was still an hour away.

The Secret Service told each member of the pool to lay their equipment on the flight line for inspection -- after which they went through laptops and did a full sweep.

Everything seemed OK.

But then came the working dog.

The Secret Service agent couldn't drag him off Mitch's bag.

He wanted to follow his handler's commands -- and, eventually, did.

But for a split second, he was just a dog being a dog and not a bomb sniffer.

I thought this particular anecdote was a keeper -- one I could use years from now to draw a laugh on the Air Force base when needed.

I didn't realize just how weak my story was until I heard about what was happening down the road in Faison about the same time that dog pulled his handler toward Mitch's bag.

And, yes, a member of the News-Argus staff was at the heart of this tale, too.

Staff writer Steve Herring had a feeling his truck would be searched before being allowed to park at Goshen Medical Center.

So he decided it might be best to clean out all of the rubbish that had accumulated in the back seat.

He had no idea he would come across a "fossilized half-eaten sausage and egg biscuit wrapped up and in a bag."

"My first thought was that if security used dogs the biscuit could be a problem," he said.

Sure enough, it was.

He arrived at the scene and had to pull over to have the truck searched and jokingly told the security detail about the biscuit.

He watched the bomb dog as it made its way from the driver's side to the passenger side.

Nerves set in.

And sure enough, when the dog reached the spot where the biscuit had been left it paused "for what seemed like a long time."

Luckily for Steve and the newspaper -- after only a few seconds, the dog moved on.

For more stories from Biden's visit and an account of the experience of riding in the motorcade, see Thursday's News-Argus.