Let’s remember the American dogs of war

As we honor those who gave all over Memorial Day weekend, we might also want to take a moment to remember the dogs who served alongside those brave men and women.

Dogs have been accompanying humans into battle for centuries, but it was Benjamin Franklin who first suggested making it official. During the Seminole War of 1835, it became a reality when the canine corps was officially called into service.

In 1914-1918, dogs were used to deliver messages. These included Sgt. Stubby, the most decorated dogs of World War I. The dog was given the rank of Sergeant after he discovered a German spy, captured him by the seat of his pants, and held onto him until found by American soldiers.

In 1941, as America entered World War II, the Dogs for Defense program began training dogs for civilian defense. The next year, they entered the battlefield in the Quartermaster Corps in North Africa. Dogs also worked in the Pacific theatre, as “War Dogs of the Pacific.”

Although Doberman Pinschers were the official dog of the U.S. Marine Corps, all breeds were eligible, and most went home with their handlers. Chips was the most decorated dog of WWII, earning a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart. Dogs proved to be invaluable throughout World War II, and became a standard part of American warfare.

In Vietnam, approximately 5,000 dogs served. These units were estimated to have saved over 10,000 human lives. In 2011, a Belgian Malinois named Cairo worked with Navy SEALs in the operation which killed Osama bin Laden.

American War Dogs have served valiantly throughout our history. This weekend, as we remember those who have served, letʼs take a moment to remember their canine brothers in paws.


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