Soldiers and their War Dogs
We love our dogs.
None are more faithful and all they want is our love. For your Sunday morning, give an extra pat to “Fido” and especially remember our service men and their battle dogs.
Some facts about War Dogs: (from article by Geoffrey Ingersoll)
- The United States War Dogs Association estimates that, since the beginning of their service, dogs have saved approximately 10,000 American lives.
- Dogs have been in service and seen combat with Americans in every conflict since the birth of the nation, but have only served officially since WWI. Dogs were mostly used as message carriers during the first few conflicts.
- In WWI, Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated War Dog in history, saved an entire company from a serin gas attack. He also met three presidents.
- The biggest hero of WII though, was a German Shepherd named Chips who single-handedly forced a machine gun crew to surrender. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart-all later revoked due to Army regulations against awarding animals.
- But Rin Tin Tin became the most famous dog of WWII. A German war dog, he was abandoned, then adopted by American troops and brought to the U.S., where he became a movie star.
- In the Pacific Campaign, Marine dog handlers were awarded a total of five Silver Stars and seven Bronze Stars for heroism in action, and more than forty Purple Hearts for wounds received in battle. The highest ranking Marine War Dog was also the first official mascot, Sgt. Maj. Jiggs. He was one of the most liked due to his belligerent demeanor. His death in 1927 was mourned throughout the Corps.
- Duke, a Vietnam war dog, once alerted his company to an impending ambush, and is credited with saving over a hundred lives with a single action.
- In total, 5,000 dogs served in the Vietnam War, and approximately 300 lost their lives.
- Dogs also serve in special forces—the SEALS brought a dog with them on the Osama bin Laden raid. There are about 2,500 war dogs in service today, with about 700 serving at any given time overseas.
- Dogs and their handlers alike have been known to need therapy after losing their partner in combat. A story is told about a dog named Hawkeye who didn’t leave the side of his fallen master’s casket until the funeral service was over.
- The dogs, like their military counterparts, often find service in law enforcement after their retirements, which occur at the ten year mark. Upon retirement though, their handlers are given the option to adopt, or the service will help the dogs find willing families
These dogs are brave…but mostly loyal. Our prayers go out to all those who share their mission.
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