Military Working Dog Teams National Monument
|Military Working Dog Teams National Monument|
Military Working Dog Teams National Monument
|Location||Bexar County, Texas, United States|
|Nearest city||San Antonio, TX|
|Governing body||Department of Defense|
The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas. It was founded by John C. Burnam, published author and Vietnam Veteran Infantryman and German Shepherd Scout Dog Handler (1966-1968). The monument was designed by the John Burnam Monument Foundation (JBMF). It represents all Handlers, dogs, and Veterinary support, from all military service branches (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard) that have made up the Military Working Dog program since World War II. The monument grounds include a 3,000 square feet granite plaza, granite pedestals, granite history wall, granite benches and water fountain. The granite pedestals have large bronze statues of dogs and handlers. Cost of construction was provided by corporate sponsors and public donations raised by the JBMF. The monument was dedicated during a formal military ceremony on October 28, 2013. One of the inscriptions reads: "Dedicated to all U.S. Military Working Dog Handlers and their beloved dogs who defend America from harm, defeat the enemy, and save lives."
The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument consists of five bronze sculptures (4 dogs and dog handler) seated on a large granite pedestal inscribed, "Guardians of America's Freedom." The center silicone bronze sculpture is a highly detailed 9 foot modern day Military Working Dog Handler wearing combat gear and holding a dog leash in his left hand and a M4 rifle in his right hand.
The remaining bronze sculptures are four of the more common breeds of Military Working Dogs utilized by the United States Department of Defense since World War II. They include a Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Belgian Malinois.
Behind the main granite pedestal is a large granite wall containing inscriptions about the history of the Military Working Dog program on one side. The other side of the wall contains laser etched authentic images of Military Working Dog Teams in action during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Behind the granite wall are five flag poles, one for each of the four U.S. Armed Services and the US Coast Guard.
The "Not Forgotten Fountain" is a bronze sculpture depicting a Vietnam War dog handler pouring water from his canteen into a helmet. The sculpture represents a Vietnam era dog handler and his working dog. A significant feature is the dog’s paw resting on the thigh of his hander accentuating their bonding relationship. The water fountain idea was conceived by Mr. Burnam and sculpted by Artist, Paula Slater. The water fountain is fully functional so that a visiting dog may have a drink. The granite pedestal of the "Not Forgotten Fountain" reads "In everlasting memory of all the war dogs who served, died, and were left behind in the Vietnam War". The entire monument is equipped with in-ground lighting providing a startling nighttime effect.
In February 2004 the John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc.(JBMF) was establishment to design, fund, build, and maintain a Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. Joining John Burnam were U.S. Air Force Vietnam Veteran Security/Patrol Dog Handlers, Richard Deggans and Larry Chilcoat. The IRS approved JBMF, Inc. as a 501c3 Tax Exempt Charity with a primary focus on education and raising public funds to build a national monument.
In 2012, Jim Frost, Vietnam Veteran Sentry Dog Company Commander and Kristie Dober, former U.S. Army Military Working Dog Handler were added to the JBMF Board of Directors to help promote public awareness and raise public funds for the national monument.
In 2007, U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones sponsored congressional legislation within H.R. 4986 National Defense Authorizations Act for FY 2008, Section 2877 of Public Law 110-181 authorizing the JBMF the exclusive rights to design, fund, build, and maintain the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. The bill was signed into public law by the President George W. Bush on January 28, 2008.
Over a span of nine years, the JBMF raised 2.1 million dollars from corporate sponsors and public donations to fund the construction and maintenance of the national monument. Arrangements were made with the Department of Defense and The Office of the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon, to accept the monument and have it installed in the south east corner of the 37th Training Wing Basic Military Training Parade Field at JBSA-Lackland AFB. This site was selected by the JBMF due to its historical significance as the training center and headquarters of the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program since 1958.
In 2007, John Burnam, along with Richard Deggans and Larry Chilcoat started the effort to erect a monument that would honor past, present, and future working dog teams. Graphic artist and designer Brian Rich, was tasked to digitally illustrate renderings that would bring their visions to life while telling the story of military working dog teams. The final design creates a visual structure that incorporates the simplicity of the subjects but also details the complexity of military working dogs and their handler's lives on the battlefield. The monument is meant to embody the history of the war dog program from World War II to present-day War on Terror theaters with meaningful purpose and accurate historical representation. It included all four U.S. Armed Services (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force) and the US Coast Guard. The materials selected to build the national monument were granite and silicone bronze, which could stand the test of weather and time with minimum maintenance for its outdoor location. The concept and design was presented and approved by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
The Keith Monument Company procured the entire horde of granite from the Rock of Ages Granite Quarry, Graniteville, Vermont. The granite components were cut to specifications, shipped to JBSA-Lackland and installed on-site. Pieces of the granite were cut-out to allow for lighting. Those pieces were gifted by the JBMF to key contributors and members of the Dedication and Unveiling Ceremony.
Artist Jim Smith, Laser Imaging and Design, Inc., created the artistic impression of authentic photos of war dog teams in action scenes since World War II. Authentic photos from World War II to the War on Terror was acquired from public records at the National Archives in Washington DC. The black granite panels were seamlessly mounted on the large gray granite wall.
The bronze and granite fully functional "Not Forgotten Fountain" was conceived by John C. Burnam and sketched and sculpted by Artist, Paula B. Slater, M.A.
Dedication and unveiling ceremony
The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument was unveiled during a formal dedication ceremony with full military fanfare on October 28, 2013. The event was covered by many local and national news organizations and was open to the American public. The ceremony was organized by the JBMF along with the assistance and under the direction of Lt Col Harris, 341st Training Squadron (TRS) Commander and TSgt Christopher Dion, 341st TRS Military Working Dog Handler Course Team Chief and representative to the JBMF. Speakers included its founder and author, John C. Burnam, retired USMC Handler Ron Aeillo, President US War Dogs Association, USAF Wounded Warrior and K9 Handler cast member of the movie "Glory Hounds", TSgt Leonard Anderson, and , USMC Handler and author of Sergeant Rex, SGT Mike Dowling.
The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is located on a secure United States Air Force Installation. However, Public Law 110-181 requires the Department of Defense to provide reasonable access to the monument by visitors and their dogs. Therefore, members of the public (and their dogs) who wish to visit the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument can access the installation to see the monument by requesting a base pass at the Lackland Air Force Base visitor control centers. The pass is limited to four hours of base access and can only be used to visit the monument.All those requesting access should know that they will be vetted for security purposes.
In 2014 responsibility for the care, upkeep, and promotion of the national monument was officially transferred by the John Burnam Monument Foundation to the Airmen Heritage Foundation. Master Sergeant Christopher G. Dion, USAF, was selected as the 1st official trustee for the Airman Heritage Foundation for the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument based on his previous role of 341st TRS National Monument coordinator. MSgt Dion passed the responsibilities of the trustee to TSgt Jonathan M. Desmond, USAF, on 22 October 2015. Since that time the official position of Military Trustee to the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument rests with a volunteer designee of the 341st TRS. In 2019 MSgt Christopher Dion, USAF Retired, joined the Board of Directors of the Airman Heritage Foundation as the Monument's lead representative. He coordinated with MSgt Steven Kaun, USAF Security Forces Center, MWD Program Manager, to create and establish the position of Active Duty Joint Service Representative to the Monument at the USAF Security Forces Center. If you are interested in being a part of the monument you can reach out to the Airman Heritage Foundation. This organization offers pavers for sale to honor MWD Handlers, dogs, or Veterinarians. These pavers will be placed into the sidewalks near to the National Monument.
- John Burnam Memorial Foundation. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. 2013. Bronze and marble. Lackland AFB, TX.
- U.S. military dedicates first national monument to combat dogs, Reuters, October 30, 2013
- Hero Dogs of the Military Finally Get a National Monument, Pets Advisor Buzz, November 5, 2013
- "1st national monument for war dogs honors four-legged pup soldiers of World War II and beyond". October 30, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
- Memorandum for Record, Commander, 802d Security Forces Squadron, October 31, 2013