War Dog Memorial – Canines: The Unsung Heroes

by | Oct 21, 2013 | Memorial Web Sites

They are the most loyal animals on the planet. They have served their people well for thousands of years. As companion animals, they have provided a bond only another dog owner can understand. This tie has served humans well not only in times of peace but during times of conflict. These are the War Dogs.

Early War Dogs

Dogs have been a part of the armed forces of many countries. At Marathon (490BC), a Greek hoplite fought the Persian enemy with his dog at his side. The event is memorialized in a mural – as lasting a memory as the War Dog memorial in New Jersey (part of the Vietnam Veterans Museum), in Knoxville Tennessee on the University of Tennessee Campus and in Confederation Park in Ottawa, Canada. The Romans also knew the worth of dogs as defenders as did the Britons and Celts. Dogs in battle and as defensive allies were known by the Egyptians, Slaves and Persians. Irish High Kings often used their massive Irish Wolfhounds in battle.

In the Wars to End All Wars

During WW I, dogs played a role among the allied forces. They acted as messengers and companion animals. For the Germans, however, dogs also took a more active role. They actively bred German Shepherds to act as medics, messengers and sentries. During the conflict, the German forces had at employed around 30,000 dogs. The death toll for all sides has been estimated as high as one million.

The entry of the United States into WWII saw a more formalized approach adopted by the United States. It fell to the Army Quartermaster Corps to create the first American War Dog Program. It took over from an essentially voluntary-based network of providers – the Dogs for Defense (DOD). Under the guidance of James A. Austin, the new group recruited and trained some 11,000 canines. They served in every branch of the American Armed Forces – Army, Coast Guard, Marine and Navy Corps. The War Dog platoons soon numbered 15. They went on to serve in both Europe and the Pacific theatres. Many did not return.

Modern War dogs

War Dogs have since played a significant war in other conflicts. In Korea, Vietnam the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan American War Dogs have appeared in large and effective numbers. In 2010, the American number of active canine participants numbered 2,800.

The War Dog Memorial

The War Dog Memorial in New Jersey honors the thousands of dogs who served their country – many who did not come back. The sculptor of the US War Dogs Memorial, Bruce Lindsay, has created a bronze statue featuring a kneeling solider and his canine. Dedicated June 10, 2006, it pays tribute to all canine companions in arms.

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