In every war, certain dogs have become famous, a symbol for the bravery and dedication to the war effort of soldiers and dogs. Some have amazing stories of bravery in action. Others are the beloved mascot of a unit or a commander. All are treasured for their canine characteristics of loyalty, bravery, and uncomplaining service. A representative few of their stories are on this Olive-Drab.com page with links to pages with more.
Rin Tin Tin portraying a World War I Red Cross Dog.
One of the most famous dogs of all time is Rin Tin Tin. He was the puppy of German war dogs, found in Lorraine, France on 15 September 1918 by Captain Lee Duncan, in an abandoned German war dog station. After the war, Duncan developed Rin Tin Tin, or "Rinty" into the first animal actor to achieve wide public acclaim. He made his film debut in 1922 starring in the silent film "The Man from Hell's River." For the next 10 years he was one of the top stars of Warner Bros. and his descendants kept the film dynasty going for many decades. At the time Rin Tin Tin came to the U.S. the German Shepherd breed was not well known, but now it is one of the most popular breeds and dominates the field of Military Working Dogs.
The public distaste for the Vietnam War prevented the kind of hero status that dogs of earlier wars gained. But for those who served with the dogs, the age old warrior bond of trust and affection was the same. Estimates are that over 250 handlers and about 500 dogs were killed in action in Vietnam, while saving the lives of thousands. Here are a few paragraphs to represent the many Military Working Dogs of the Vietnam War, some whose names have been preserved and some who are remembered only by their handlers and unit buddies.
Kaiser was the first Marine Scout Dog Killed in action in the Republic of Vietnam, 6 July 1966. He was with D Company, First Marines, 3d Marine Divison. Lance Corporal Alfredo Salazar was his handler.
Kelly served and died in Vietnam in 1971. As a loyal and dedicated member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, 39th Scout Dog Platoon, U.S. Army, Kelly saved many soldiers from injury and death before he was lost.
Nemo A534 was initially trained as a USAF sentry dog working at a CONUS Strategic Air Command base, but was transferred to Vietnam in 1966. On 4 December 1966 Tan Son Nhut Air Base was attacked by a large force of Viet Cong commando raiders some of whom evaded detection and remained on base into the next night when his handler Airman Robert A. Thorneburg and Nemo were posted. Nemo detected the lurking VC, alerted and was released to attack. Both Thorneburg and Nemo were wounded, but not before killing at least one VC. Despite his injuries, including loss of an eye, Nemo was credited with saving his handler's life and preventing further destruction of life and property. On 23 June 1967, Nemo was returned to the United States as the first sentry dog officially retired from active service. His permanent retirement kennel was located at the Department of Defense Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas until his death from natural causes in December 1972.
Desert Storm and Recent Conflicts
Military Working Dogs continue to serve with U.S. forces. In 2004, an Iraqi born German Shepherd named Fluffy was rehabilitated and trained by a U.S. soldier in Iraq and then allowed to come home with him to retire. Read about Fluffy on this Olive-Drab.com page.
After September 11th
Sirius was the only dog to lose his life in the harrowing search and rescure work following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Sirius, who was attached to the Port Authority Police Department, was interred at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in conjunction with their 2002 War Dog Memorial Celebration.
Find More Information on the Internet
There are many fine websites that have additional information on this
topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go.
Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.
For good results, try entering this: dogs war famous. Then click the Search button.