Memorial Day is celebrated all throughout the United States to pay homage to those who have served in the armed forces. These celebrations honor the men and women who have fallen, but what about the dogs that have served? They seem to have been forgotten. I’d like to take a few minutes to appreciate some of the noble dogs that gave their lives in service to their country.
Many, many dogs have assisted soldiers in times of war, all of whom deserve a thank you. There are a few dogs that stand out, and have become infamous for their contributions. Dogs of war have performed many duties in times of conflict. They have worked as attack dogs, message carriers, trackers, scouts, but most often, they were sentries. Sentry dogs have been used to alert soldiers of the presence of strangers since the Cold War. The most decorated dog of WWII was Chips, who was trained as a sentry, but in combat, broke away from his handler and began to attack the enemy. He caused their surrender to the American forces and was given the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Although Chips went against orders, his actions saved many lives.
The relationship with the handler is the most important part of their lives. They are trained by these men and women and follow their orders to the letter. They remain loyal to their handler, oftentimes saving their lives. Lex, a German Shepherd, stayed by his handler’s side, Lee, when he was mortally wounded, while Lex sustained shrapnel wounds. Despite his own wounds, Lex refused to leave Lee and had to be dragged away for corpsmen and other medics to attempt treatment. Lex was later adopted by Lee’s parents and worked for years at the VA hospital where he comforted wounded veterans. He shared a loving bond with his handler, which was reflected in his loyalty to Lee and determination to help those in need.
Dogs also work as mascots, who help to keep up the spirits of the soldiers they live with. During the American Civil War, Sallie, a Pitbull Terrier, was raised by Lt. William Terry of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. She followed her soldiers everywhere and was always on the front lines with them. She was beloved by many, including President Lincoln, who gave her his famous salute when he met her. She spent her last days guarding the bodies of injured and dead soldiers from her squadron. She was later commemorated by a statue located on Oak Ridge, where the right flank of the First Corps was positioned on July 1, 1863, and where Sallie later stood watch over the wounded and dead. She gave the soldiers around her hope in the most dire of times.
Dogs of war have also been instrumental in many captures and battles. Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, assisted the Navy SEALs in Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. Cairo tracked anyone who tried to escape and alerted the Navy SEALs. Cairo scouted the area around the compound, which made the job of the SEALs easier.
In each war, dogs have been helpful, whether it be to attack the enemy, carry messages, or keep up the morale of their squadron. The service of war dogs is invaluable and has saved so many lives in times of combat. There is no way to thank these dogs enough. 1 FUR 1 urges you to share the stories of these noble dogs with your loved ones.