Animal Writes
From 4 May 2003 Issue

Honor the Dogs of War
From [email protected] 

America's military presence in Iraq includes "soldiers" who have received none of the farewell fanfare and support accorded the hundreds of thousands of traditional troops deployed. Neither are they being recognized for the heroic service they provided in past wars. They are war dogs.

Veteran handler Charlie Cargo tells of the day his dog Wolf, a German Shepherd, refused to allow him to proceed up a trail in Vietnam. "I looked straight ahead and not more then two feet away was a trip wire. I would have died right there if he hadn't found the wire," Cargo said. Teams were so effective that the Viet Cong offered a bounty for dead war dogs or their handlers.

The dogs prevented soldiers from triggering booby traps or stepping on land mines, and they alerted their handlers to hidden enemy soldiers far away. They detected underwater saboteurs by the smell of their breath from the reeds they used as snorkels. Some protected their handlers from gunfire and shrapnel with their own bodies, losing their own lives in return.

In the Vietnam War, an estimated 10,000 American casualties were prevented by the efforts of 4,000 faithful American dogs. Only 265 dog handlers were killed in action. Of the dogs, 325 died in the line of duty, and 600 succumbed to tropical disease. Because the Vietnam War was so unpopular, many of our soldiers returned home abandoned and unrecognized. Also unheralded were their heroic dogs. Some say the government considered them expendable "equipment." The handlers were devastated to leave their best friends behind. Today, handlers who served in Vietnam still break down and cry as they tell of their dogs' heroics and the lives they saved. Fortunately, war dogs are no longer considered expendable and are sent back to U.S. Air Force bases for continuing service. That's a start.

Commemorative postage stamps are approved by Congress. Even Donald Duck has one. But efforts by veterans to so honor our war dogs have been passed over by Congress -- twice. Donald Duck has entertained and delighted us for generations, but how many soldiers' lives has he saved? Don't these dogs deserve at least a postage stamp?

American Fork

Go on to Pineapple Coleslaw recipe by Greg Lawson
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