National War Dog Cemetery

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A U.S. Navy dog handler at the War Dog Memorial

The National War Dog Cemetery is a memorial to war dogs located at Naval Base Guam. The cemetery honors the dogs—mostly Doberman Pinschers—that were killed in service with the United States Marine Corps during the Second Battle of Guam in 1944.

History[edit]

The island of Guam, an American territory since 1898, was captured by Japanese forces on December 10, 1941, in the first days after the U.S. entered World War II. Guam was held by the Japanese for two and a half years, until U.S. Marines landed to retake the island in July 1944. Along with them were the 2nd and 3rd War Dog Platoons, used as sentries and scouts in over 450 patrols.[1][2] They explored the island's cave system, detected land mines and booby traps, and guarded sleeping Marines.

In the most famous incident, a Doberman named Kurt saved the lives of 250 Marines when he warned them of a massive Japanese force ahead.[1][3][4] Kurt was badly injured in the ensuing mortar attack, along with his handler, PFC Allen Jacobson, who is said to have refused treatment until Kurt had been evacuated.[5] Kurt became the first of the war dogs to be killed in action on Guam.[6] Of the 60 Marine war dogs that landed on Guam, 25 died there and 20 more were wounded.[4][7]

Monument[edit]

As the dogs died over the course of the battle, they were buried along with other Marines at Asan, the initial landing point of the invasion. White headstones were added later, forming a small plot in the cemetery. The human remains were eventually returned to the United States, and by the 1980s the dogs' graves had been largely forgotten and were overgrown with weeds.[8] William Putney, who had served as the commanding officer of the 3rd War Dog Platoon, lobbied for the creation of a memorial to the dogs and raised funds for the monument. The remains and markers were moved to a new cemetery on the naval base in June 1994 created by a Seabee detachment from NMCB 1.The memorial was dedicated on July 21, 1994, the 50th anniversary of the battle.[9]

The sculpture atop the memorial depicts the famous Doberman, Kurt. Entitled "Always Faithful", in reference to the Marine Corps' own motto, semper fidelis, it was created by California sculptor Susan Bahary.[2][6][10]

Other memorials[edit]

Fort Benning has a memorial to war dogs at the National Infantry Museum, installed in 2004. An identical sculpture is at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California.[11]

A replica of the Guam memorial was installed at the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998.[2]

John Burnam, a dog handler during the Vietnam War, successfully raised funds for a war dog memorial at Lackland Air Force Base, where military dogs have been trained since 1958.[12]

There is an identical statue at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Oscar Johnson (January 9, 2011). "Memorial tells rarely heard old war stories". Stripes Guam. 
  2. ^ a b c "War Dog Memorial". 
  3. ^ "Leatherneck". 79. Marine Corps Institute. 1996: vii. 
  4. ^ a b Nigel Allsop. Cry Havoc. ISBN 1921655860. 
  5. ^ ""Always Faithful" Military Working Dog Monument Donated To Marine Corps Heritage Foundation". 
  6. ^ a b Nigel Cawthorne (2012). Canine Commandos: The Heroism, Devotion, and Sacrifice of Dogs in War. p. 155. ISBN 1612430554. 
  7. ^ Cyril J. O'Brien. "Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam". National Park Service. 
  8. ^ "War Dogs of Guam". New York Times. December 2, 2011. 
  9. ^ "War Dogs". National Park Service. 
  10. ^ "Always Faithful". 
  11. ^ "War Dog Memorial". 
  12. ^ John Lindblom (March 26, 2013). "The Dogs of War: California Sculptor Works on National Monument Commemorating Service of Military Dogs". Today Media Network. 

External links[edit]

War Dog Memorial at Find a Grave