This Memorial Day, May 27th, we solemnly honor those who suffered and gave their lives for our country.
Traditionally, this day is devoted to the servicemen and women who have fought honorably here in the United States and overseas. But with an increasing number of dogs serving in the military, Memorial Day now, very appropriately, includes the honoring of military canine members.
Dogs in the Military
Throughout history, man’s best friend has been at his side through battles, encampments, and raids of all kinds. All over the world, there are examples of dogs serving in armies and militaries.
Yet it was not until World War II that dogs became official members of the military here in the United States. At this time, a war dog training program was organized in North Carolina by Marine Corps officer William W. Putney.
Putney created a program that actually recruited family pets for the military. Today, all military dogs are bred within the system and trained for their duties from a young age.
At that time, however, all dogs needed to be trained anew. Their preparation included learning how to carry messages, smell trip wires, and sniff out land mines. They were also conditioned to handle loud gunfire and blasts.
Though the program has changed in many ways since World War II, today, military dogs are still an active part of all Armed Forces branches. Some dogs patrol military checkpoints and air bases while others travel as far as the Middle East to assist their fellow servicemen and women. Their contribution to our country is truly immeasurable.
Remembering Beloved Military Dogs This Memorial Day
Here are examples of two dogs who have fought honorably and courageously for the United States.
A Belgian-Malinois, Cairo was the dog present during the raid on Osama bin Laden along with a team of U.S. Navy Seals. Cairo’s jobs were to locate false walls, guard the perimeter during the raid, and detect possible explosives. Once the team’s mission was accomplished, Cairo was honored by President Obama.
Chips was a husky, collie, German shepherd mix who served in World War II. Chips served in France, Italy, North Africa, and Germany under General Patton’s Seventh Army. For his courage and valor, he later became the most decorated military dog of the entire war.
Many dogs have given their lives for the defense of our nation. This Memorial Day, we honor all of them.