Due to a policy that has existed since World War II, and despite the protests of armed forces personnel, the United States military refuses to formally recognize the accomplishments of its canine soldiers, stating that such recognition is demeaning to servicemen. So, I’ll do it here. These are just a few of the thousands of DOG HEROES that served in our armed forces.
JACK, Bull Terrier mix, Union army, U.S. Civil War.
GENERAL, Saint Bernard, 14th North Carolina Infantry, Confederate Army, U.S. Civil War.
STUBBY, Bull Terrier mix. The most decorated war dog in U.S. history. That’s him in the picture.
SMOKY, 4 pound Yorkie. WWII’s littlest soldier.
DUDE, Collie Mix, Sentry Dog, WWII
CHIPS, German Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix, WWII, Tank guard dog and the most decorated dog in WWII being awarded the Silver Star for Valor and a Purple Heart.
RONNIE, German Shepherd, WWII, U.S. Coast Guard Dog Patrol.
BOB, Collie mix, WWII, led more forays into German territory than any other U.S. soldier in WWII, human or canine.
DUG, Belgian Shepherd, Korean War.
PRINCE 347E, German Shepard, Vietnam. He served our country his entire adult life.
NEMO, German Shepherd, Wounded in Vietnam. Despite losing an eye to gunfire, he threw himself on 4 Viet Cong to save his handler in 1966. Both survived. One of the few Vietnam war dogs given passage back home to the United States.
TROY, Alaskan Malamute, served the U.S. Air Force in the early 1980’s.
CARLO, Belgian Malinois, Desert Storm.
SSD COOPER, Yellow Lab, July 6, 2007, 94th Mine Dog Detachment, Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On March 13, 1942, Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson signed a letter that authorized the Quartermaster General to officially induct dogs into the war effort. The K9 Corps trained 10,425 dogs up to 1949 to protect and save thousands of lives in WW II. Nearly 4000 dogs served in Vietnam performing scouting and sentry duties. Today, 2300 dogs serve. It used to be that most of the dogs that served overseas never returned home. The military has changed their policy due to overwhelming protests from both the public and the dog handlers themselves. Military dogs are now returned to the U.S. and are no longer euthanized, but instead are given to their handlers when they are retired.
In recognition of the unique contributions of our nation’s military dogs, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act in May which creates a system of care for their retirement. However, identical legislation, S.2134, is currently languishing in the Senate Committee on Armed Forces, with fewer than 20 Senate co-sponors. You can help push this legislation through by contacting your senator and urging him to gather support for S.2134. Our military pups deserve this!
This Veterans Day, please take a few moments to remember our animal vets, past and present. And if any of those vets could talk, I imagine this is what they might say:
When you think of liberty
and count the reasons you are free…
Don’t forget to think of me!
…From a poem by Kathy Anne Harris