One of the best known dogs in World War II, little four pound Smoky was called "the best mascot in the South Pacific" by Yank magazine which featured this photo with a story. Photo: Copyright 1996 William A. Wynne, used with permission.
Today in WW II: 20 Apr 1945 Northern Italy: US 5th Army breaks out beyond the Apennines, into the broad Po River Valley, forcing retreat across the Po by forces of German Gen. Heinrich Von Vietinghoff.
Smoky, the Yorkie Doodle Dandy
Smoky, a tiny Yorkshire Terrier, was found in a foxhole in the New Guinea jungle, bedraggled and starving, how she got there no one knows. As Bill Wynne tells it:
Smoky was found in the jungle foxhole by Ed Downey a friend ,who not liking dogs gave it to motor pool Sgt. Dare from whom I bought her the next day for two Australian pounds ($6.44 American) so Dare could get back in a poker game.
Smoky went with Wynne from then on and, in the course of eighteen months of combat with the 26th Photo Recon Sq., of the 6th Photo Recon Group, 91st Photo Recon Wing, 5th Air Force, Smoky was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars. YANK magazine named Smoky, "Champion Mascot of the Southwest Pacific Area in 1944."
But Smoky was more than a mascot. She became a war dog on Luzon in January 1945 when a taxistrip had to be crossed by a communications cable, requiring a culvert to be dug up. That three day job would put the strip out of action, exposing planes to Japanese bombing. Smoky solved the problem by pulling a string with the wires attached through an eight inch pipe under the runway, climbing through piles of sand accumulated along the 70 foot length.
Smoky, littlest hero of World War II. Photo: Copyright 1996 William A. Wynne, used with permission.
Smoky, the First Therapy Dog
Smoky was highly intelligent and Wynne taught her many tricks. She entertained troops in camps and hospitals from Australia to Korea. "She was one of the first therapy dogs on record," Wynne said. After the war she continued to make appearances with Bill Wynne. Her stories appeared in over 50 books and magazine articles including the History of the Fifth Air Force.
Animal Planet investigated Smoky as a Therapy Dog and found she was the first documented in that role. Smoky started in July 1944, at the 233rd Station Hospital, in New Guinea, where she accompanied nurses to see the incoming wounded. Smoky's photo was in YANK at the same time which made it easier to get permission. The commanding officer of the 233rd, who allowed Smoky to go on rounds and allowed her to sleep on Bill Wynne's hospital bed for five nights was Dr. Charles W. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic, and most of the 233rd staff was made up of Mayo Clinic volunteers.
It was more than twenty years later (1964) that a Dr. Levin mentioned that dog therapy could be helpful for mental patients. Smoky did this for twelve years, during and after World War II.
Memorial to Smoky
Smoky died in 1957, a much loved authentic hero. There is a special monument honoring Smoky, World War II's littlest soldier and most famous war dog, in Cleveland, OH. A new monument is planned for an expanded war memorial site in Veterans' Park that will honor Smoky and other War Dogs.
Note: Olive-Drab.com gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Bill Wynne, a wonderful old soldier and a great man, in the preparation of this page.
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