Dogs of War
Four-Legged Veterans by Sally Deneen
Article From Petsmart.com


They Are The Little-Noticed Heroes

Answering To Names Like Bruiser
Wolf
And Shep


They Have Braved Some Of The Toughest Jobs Imaginable
They Have Sniffed Out Land Mines That Could Explode With One False Step
They Have Walked Ahead Of Front-Line Soldiers
They Have Scouted Out Enemies Hidden In Thick Jungles
They Have Dragged Bloody Bodies To Safety As Shots Were Fired

They Have Dropped From The Sky
Parachutes Flowing From Their Furry Backs
Their Bodies Hitting The Ground In A Tumble
To Rescue Wounded World War II Soldiers Stranded In Remote Territory

They Are The Dogs Of War

Military Dogs Are Credited With Saving Thousands Of Lives
At Least 10,000 In The Vietnam War
And Three To Five Times That In Other Wars In The Last Century

On Memorial Day
As The Nation Pays Tribute To The Humans Who Gave Their Lives For Their Country
Paul Morgan Of Smithtown, New York, Will March In His Community's Parade
Morgan Will Thank A Particular 45-Pound German Shepherd Samed Suzie
"I Know That At Least Twice She Kept Me From Getting Killed," Said Morgan

Morgan Is A Now-Retired U.S. Army Major
He Is Also The Author Of "K-9 Soldiers"
"Vietnam And After"
1999--Hellgate Press

It Is A Common Refrain From Veterans
Who Shared Their Most Frightening Moments With Canine Teammates
They Looked Out For Each Other
They Shared Meals Of Rice And Fish
They Shared Canteens And Hugs

"They May Forget The Guy They Fought With
But They Never Forgot The Dog They Worked With," Says Michael Lemish
Lemish Is A Historian For The Vietnam Dog Handlers Association

He Is Also The Author Of "War Dogs"
A History Of Loyalty And Heroism"
1999
Batsford Brassey
How Could They?

John Flannelly
For One
Felt Certain He Was Near Death That Battle Day In 1969
When His Side Was Split Open, His Lung Suddenly Was Exposed
It Was Clearly Visible, Deflating Then Inflating Before His Eyes
Yet His German Shepherd Bruiser
Clamped His Canine Jaws Onto Flannelly's Uniform
He Slowly, Determinedly, Dragged Him To Safety
Bruiser Was Shot At Least Twice As He Dragged His Handler
"His Loyalty Was Immeasurable
I Owe My Life To That Dog"
Flannelly Was A U.S. Marine Corps Dog Handler During Vietnam

He Recalled In the 1999 documentary
"War Dogs"
"America's Forgotten Heroes"
"I Was Closer With That Dog
Than Most People Are With Their Wives, Their Children," He Said

Morgan, Too, Had A Brush With Death In 1965

All Of A Sudden, A Sergeant, Was Alerted By The Reaction Of Suzie The Dog
The Sergeant Yelled: "Look Out!"
Morgan Turned Around
Suzie Was Barking Viciously At An Enemy Soldier Disguised In A U.S. Uniform
He Was Standing Behind Them With A Grenade
The Intruder Tried To Throw The Grenade At Morgan
But A Corporal Fell On The Grenade
A Flurry Of Action Ended With The Enemy Soldier And The Corporal Dead
Morgan And The Sergeant Were Alive
"I Survived Without A Scratch
I Gave Suzie All The Credit For Saving Us," Said Morgan

He Had Acquired Suzie In An Unusual Way
He Traded A Priest A .38-Caliber Pistol And Silver Rosary Beads For Her
Eventually, Morgan Had To Leave Vietnam
He Had To Say Goodbye To Suzie Per Regulations
Suzie Was "Whimpering As She Tried To Climb Into My Jeep," Morgan Recalls
He Pinned A Bronze Star Ribbon
And A Small Combat Infantryman Badge On Her Collar
Then He Left
"Nobody Saw My Tears As I Drove Off," He Said

Lemish Is A Dogged Historian
He Has Read Several Letters Written By Soldiers
Letters To Folks Back Home Crediting Dogs With Saving Lives
The Bond With Dogs Is Obvious, Even 30 Years Later
"You Can Feel It When You Talk To Them," Says Lemish

One Veteran He Interviewed
Still Wears A Wristband He Fashioned From The Collar Of His War Dog, Wolf
Wolf, After All, Alerted The Vietnam Soldier, Charlie, To A Trip Wire For A Booby Trap
He Saved The Soldier's Life

Another Man In Rhode Island
Still Wears A Tattoo Of A Shepherd Dog On His Arm In Memory Of His War Dog
"Each Of Them Remembers His Dog In Their Own Way," Lemish Says

These Brave Four-Legged Soldiers Were Preceded In History By Legions Of Others
This Includes Stubby The Mutt
Stubby's Military Career Began When He Wandered Into The Connecticut National Guard's Training Area
He Soon Was Adopted As A Mascot
Stubby Went Overseas With The 102nd Infantry Regiment During World War I
He Saved His Regiment From Surprise Mustard Gas Attacks
He Also Located Wounded Soldiers

He Earned A Decoration For Valor Awarded By General John Pershing
At The Start Of World War II, Only 40 Sled Dogs Were Serving In The U.S. Military
But That Number Soon Swelled
A Civilian Woman Started A Campaign Encouraging The Public To Donate Dogs
About 12,000 Donated Dogs Made The Grade, Ending Up In Active Service
"A Sentry Dog Can Replace 10 People, Just One Dog," Lemish Says
Thousands Of Cases Of Milk Bone Biscuits Were Delivered To Dogs Serving On The Front Lines
In 1945, Eight Dogs Received The Dickin Medal For Valor
This Was The Highest Allied Animal Decoration For World War II Service

More Than 4,000 Dogs Were Recruited To Serve And Protect U.S. Troops In Vietnam
"These Heroic Dogs"
"Said Tom Mitchell, Chairman Of The Vietnam Dog Handlers Association
"Were Responsible For Saving A Minimum Of 10,000 Americans From Death Or Injury"
A Recent Edition Of His Association's Newsletter, Called Dogman
Printed The Names And Dates Of Those Killed In Action 30 Years Earlier

"Jan. 9
Army Scout Dog Andy
5A48"

"Jan. 18
Army Scout Dog Handler Richard Edward Ford And His Dog Erich
3M92"

"Jan. 29
Army Scout Dog Shep
69A3"
And So On

War Dogs May Be Little-Known
But They Aren't Forgotten

Today
A Monument To World War I Dogs Stands At A Pet Cemetery In Hartsdale, New York
An Annual Ceremony Will Take Place At The Foot Of The Bronze German Shepherd Statue On Memorial Day Weekend
The Ceremony Will Honor All Military Dogs
Not Just The "Mercy Dogs," As The World War I Canines Were Called
It Was Their Job To Find Wounded Soldiers Who Were Left To Die On Distant Battlefields
It Was Their Job To Lead Medics To Them

Meanwhile
A Push Is On To Create A Postage Stamp Honoring Military And Service Dogs

And What About The Dogs Of The Vietnam War?

In The Belief That More Soldiers Would've Died In Vietnam Without The Help Of Canine Soldiers
A Movement Is Afoot To Erect A Statue In Their Honor At Fort Benning, Georgia
Another Statue Went Up In Riverside, California, In February
More Than $1 Million In Donations Have Poured In From People Across The Country To Pay For The Statues
Another $250,000 Still Needs To Be Raised
Anyone Who Calls 877-WAR-DOGS To Give A $15.00 Donation Receives A Copy Of The Vietnam Video "War Dogs"
Many Donations Have Been As Small As $5.00
Some Are Accompanied By Touching Stories
Like The Man Who Gave $50.00 In Memory Of His Late Father-In-Law
His Late Father-In-Law Was A German Shepherd Fan
The Stories "Just Tug At Your Heart," Said Laura Benge
Laura Benge Is A Spokesperson For The Memorial Fund And Nature's Recipe
Nature's Recipe Produced The Documentary "War Dogs"

If There Is One Message
Benge Would Like Everyone To Understand On Memorial Day

It's This

"We Recognize All Heroes
Four-Legged
Two-Legged
All Wars
All Combat
Benge Says

"That's What Freedom Is All About"


Called to Give My All

I Am A Deputy In A Canine Crew
I've Been Trained To See It Through

When Danger's Near My, Ears Perk Up
They Taught Me That As A Little Pup

I'm Often There To Protect Your Rights
My Presence Sometimes Hinders Fights

I Never Attack With Thought To Kill
When Subduing One, My Job I Fill

I Never Worry A Single Thought
As To How I'll Fare At A Certain Spot

The Love I Have For A Handler's Care
Is All I Need, Each Day To Fare

And If Some Day My Luck Turns Bad
I'll Relish All The Joys I've Had

To Be With Men Who Stand For Good
In The Special Kind Of Brotherhood

The Story's End By Now You Know
Of How I Tried For A Better Show

I Did My Best, Though I Did Fall
When I Was Called And Gave My All

Author Unknown




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