Lest We Forget The War Dogs

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you

Prince War Dog

The image is “PRINCE” 5A07, digitally assembled by Pete Peters.

Prince served in the Vietnam War in 1966 and 1967. He was handled by two people during his time of service: Melvin Cobb and Pete Peters. Pete used used a 35 year old picture he had taken of Prince, scanned it in, and digitally inserted Prince into a recent picture of the Vietnam Memorial in DC. The title of this print is “Where’s my name?”

About Pete Peters, a Vietnam vet and dog handler, and his military dog, Prince, and about the photograph.

I believe the print is still available from the Space Coast War Dog Association. E-mail them if you are interested.

Then there’s the story of King…

I remembered our nights on patrol in the inky darkness of the monsoon nights, when the moon would not appear for weeks. I remembered the torrential rains and the times I would allow King to seek shelter under my poncho. I remembered the C-ration meals we shared together, while others were able to sleep or go to the mess area for hot meals.

I remembered the long, hot and humid summer nights, that would cause rust to form on my CAR-15 rifle, but cleaning it became secondary to King’s needs. I remembered the two canteens of water I carried, one for King and one for me. When King’s was empty I would share mine with him. I remembered the dry season when I would spend hours removing ticks from King’s coat and using a torch to burn them from the kennels cement block walls. I remembered the sounds of war we shared, the constant flights of helicopters and the medical, dust-offs, that brought in the dead and wounded from the battlefields.

We witnessed the thundering explosions and the illuminating skyline of the distant mountains of the Central Highlands. I remembered how King’s eyes followed the red tracer bullets as they formed unintelligible characters on their downward spiral. I remembered the hastily dug fox holes we shared and how I would pray that the bullets missed us and I believe that if dogs could pray King would have said a prayer for me too!

I remembered the rising sun that signaled the end of another night on patrol and King’s excitement when he saw the truck coming that would take us to the kennels. I remembered the trip back to the kennels, riding in silence, as we were too tired to talk, and how King would seem to know that danger, at least for a while, was absent. In minutes he would be sleeping soundly with his head on my lap.

I remembered the night I visited King at the kennels for the last time and how I tried so desperately to explain why I was going home and he could not go with me. Somehow I knew he did not understand, even as he licked the tears from my cheeks. The walk from the kennels to the living quarters was only a few hundred yards, but in many ways it was longer than the trip home to America the next day. In my heart I knew King would not survive the stress of the war much longer as he was almost eight years old, and for a war dog that was old.

Trust in me, my friend, for I am your comrade. I will protect you with my last breath. When all others have left you and the loneliness of the night closes in, I will be at your side.”

Dedicated to the memory of all those who served …

JACK, Bull Terrier mix, Union army, U.S. Civil War.
GENERAL, Saint Bernard, 14th North Carolina Infantry, Confederate Army, U.S. Civil War.
ROBERT LEE, Troupe Artillery, Confederate Army, U.S. Civil War.
STUBBY, Bull Terrier mix, WWI. The most decorated war dog in U.S. history. As a small, stray bull terrier, he was smuggled aboard a troop ship to France. There he was wounded in no-man’s land but recovered and still served in battles at Chateau Thierry, the Marne and the Meuse-Argonne with the men of the 102nd Infantry. One night in February 1918, he roused a sleeping sergeant to warn of a gas attack, giving the soldiers time to don masks and thus saving them. Gen John “Black Jack” Pershing awarded him a special Gold Medal. He was given Life Membership in the American Legion and the Red Cross. He met Presidents Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge. He died of old age in 1926. Stubby is now on display as part of American military history in the Hartford Armory in Connecticut and is called “Sergeant Stubby”.

Sergeant Stubby

SMOKY, 4 pound Yorkie. WWII’s littlest soldier. 8 Battle stars, 12 combat Missions 18 months straight in combat. YANK magazine’s “Champion Mascot of the SWPA in 1944″ became a WAR DOG on LUZON late Jan.’45 by pulling string with communications wires attached under the only taxi strip leading to the protected area of 40 U.S Photo and Fighter planes saving them from the hazard of daily exposure to bombings if they would have to be moved while a construction detail dug up the taxiway. This three day job was accomplished in two minutes by the seven inch tall Smoky who climbed through 4 inch piles of sand accumilated at each four foot segment. along the 70 feet, 8” in diameter drainage culvert.
SARGE 1A43, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
PRINCE 55-M-9, German Shepherd mix, Vietnam.
LUKE, black Labrador Retriever, Vietnam
PATCHES, Vietnam, one of the few war dogs given passage back home to the United States.
NEMO, German Shepherd, Wounded in Vietnam. Depsite losing an eye to gunfire, he threw himself on 4 Viet Cong to save his handler in 1966. Both survived. One of the few Vietnam war dogs given passage back home to the United States.
TROY, Alaskan Malamute, served the U.S. Air Force in the early 1980’s.
LISLE, German Shepherd-Collie mix, served the U.S. Army in the early 1980’s.
THOR, German Shepherd, Desert Storm.
BUNS, German Shepherd, Desert Storm.
SMOKEY, German Shepherd, Desert Storm.
BANDIT, German Shepherd, Desert Storm.
ASTOR, German Shepherd, Desert Storm.
PENNY, Beagle, Desert Storm.
TOSCA, Belgian Malinois, Desert Storm.
NERO 304J, Belgian Malinois, Desert Storm.
CARLO, Belgian Malinois, Desert Storm. During a ceremony in which Carlo’s handler received the Bronze Star for his service in Kuwait, his handler removed the medal from his own uniform and pinned it to Carlo’s collar, saying, “Carlo worked harder than me. He was always in front of me.”
PASJA, Belgian Malinois, euthanized for being too old to continue serving.March Field war dog memorial
NORMAN SADLER, Fox Terrier, fundraiser during WWII.
BOOTS, trick dog, fundraiser during WWII.
RONNIE, German Shepherd, WWII, U.S. Coast Guard Dog Patrol.
BOB, Collie mix, WWII, led more forays into German territory than any other U.S. soldier in WWII, human or canine.
BUSTER, WWII, killed in action.
RICKY, Welsh Shepherd, parachuting scout dog, WWII.
DUKE, Doberman Pinscher, served in the Pacific during WWII.
DUDE, Collie Mix, Sentry Dog, WWII (see photo). Belonged to James M. Coleman in the 82nd Airborne, 505 PIR. Dude enlisted February 19, 1943, and honorably discharged April 25, 1945. A local newspaper article on Dude’s return stated, “…he was a little grouchy since his return home!”
CHIPS, German Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix, WWII, Tank guard dog and the most decorated dog in WWII being awarded the Silver Star for Valor and a Purple Heart. When he and his handler was attacked by a concealed machine gun in July 1943 during the invasion of Sicily, he streaked for the Italian machine gun pillbox, capturing 4 Italian soldiers and saving his handler. He suffered powder burns and a scalp wound – proof that the Italians had tried to kill him. That same night he helped capture another 10 Italian soldiers. The U.S. newspapers called him a hero. He was personally thanked for his services by General Eisenhower. Chips’ military honors were removed because the the commander of the Order of the Purple Heart determined that decorating a dog was “…demeaning to servicemen.”
DUG, Belgian Shepherd, Korean War.
BRUTE, Belgian Shepherd, Korean War.
CASEY, Belgian Shepherd, Korean War.
ROY, Belgian Shepherd, Korean War.
SHERI, Belgian Shepherd, Korean War.
MAC, first canine casualty in Vietnam.
PAL, scout dog, Vietnam.
TROUBLES, scout dog, Vietnam.
VALENTINE 3F38, German Shepherd, died in Vietnam.
BUCK, German Shepherd mix, Vietnam, killed in action.
ROYAL 19X8, German Shepherd, Vietnam, killed in action.
DUKE 383M, German Shepherd, Vietnam, killed in action.
CLACKER, German Shepherd, Vietnam, killed in action.
KREIGER, German Shepherd, Vietnam, killed in action.
PONCHO, German Shepherd, Vietnam, killed in action.
DUKE 645f, German Shepherd, Vietnam, missing in action.
EBONY, German Shepherd, Vietnam, 47th Scout Dog Platoon.
DUFFER, German Shepherd, Vietnam, 212th Sentry Dog Co.
SUZIE, German Shepherd, Vietnam. Her handler gave her his Bronze Star.
BLACKIE 129X, left behind in Vietnam.
HEIDI, scout dog, left behind in Vietnam.
KRISTIANNA, German Shepherd, left behind in Vietnam.
WARRIOR, German Shepherd, left behind in Vietnam.
COMMANDER, German Shepherd, left behind in Vietnam.
WINSTON, German Shepherd, left behind in Vietnam.
TIMBER, German Shepherd, left behind in Vietnam.
CLIPPER, German Shepherd, left behind in Vietnam.
ORION, German Shepherd, left behind in Vietnam.
SMOKEY, German Shepherd, nicknamed “Flop,” left behind in Vietnam.
WOLF, Vietnam.
REX, German Shepherd, nicknamed “Punky,” Vietnam.
YORK, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
DUKE, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
BOY, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
NASTY, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
ZORRO, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
MAX, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
KOENIG, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
BRIAN-4M4, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
KING, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
KIESER, German Shepherd, Vietnam
HUDSONS KING, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
RUSTY 775E, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
IRKO, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
TIGER, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
INK, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
REBEL, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
CHIEF, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
SMOKIE 6X65, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
SLIM SN# 84M6, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
PUDDLES 807M, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
JOUNK, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
BRUISER, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
ROGER 3M84, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
DUKE 6A47, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
BUDDY A601, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
BIG BOY, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
TARZAN W195, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
BLITZ, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
GARDO 86XO, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
MACK, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
ERIC, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
FRITZ 584F, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
GEISHA A871, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
DOBE 7X49, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
REX 75M3, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
SHEPPY, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
CLYDE, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
CHEROKEE, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
SPOOK 235X, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
BUFFY 87M3, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
KNIGHT, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
MARAT 34A1, German Shepherd, Vietnam.
PRINCE 347E, German Shepherd, Vietnam. He served his country his entire adult life and was put to rest on October 2, 1968, at the War Dog Hospital, Long Binh, Vietnam. “I have remembered him every day for the last 39 years and will continue to do so until I join him. Thank you very much for honoring those that the military/politicians in DC forgot so many years ago.” – Robert L. Ott, Initial Trainer and Handler

And countless others in many countries over many years…

King’s story at Vietnam Security Police Association site.

Backgrounder on American war dogs at Vietnam Dog Handler Association site.

Soldier and War Dog

The real dogs of war at Legend and Lore.


21 responses to “Lest We Forget The War Dogs

  1. Fantastic! you were bringing tears to my eyes, I remember those feelings of putting away my dog for the last time and saying goodbye. I remember the nights we spent waiting for daylight and listening for the sound of the deuce and half to come pick us up, and the long ride back in. I am thinking alot about him and all the war dogs and Vets today.

    Best Regards;

    Donald ( Jack ) Kelly
    Korat RTAFB ‘Nov 71-72’
    388th SPS K9 “The Hunters”
    Handler of MWD “Lucky 95m5”
    VDHA & VSPA Member

  2. Wonderful and not so wonderful memories are evoked by reading this. Thank you.

    Eddy Matthews
    35SPS K-9 Phan Rang 68-69
    Buddy A6o1 Mountain 78m9

  3. Great post and so appropriate for today.

    Thanks for the memories man!

  4. That’s absolutely beautifully written and totally accurate. You bring back just tons of vivid memories. Saying goodbye is the only bad one though, to Tina X768, a Belgian Tervuren. She was very long-haired and soft-skinned and extra susceptible to those damn ticks.

    Welcome Home!

    Phil Carroll
    56th SPS “Nightfighter” K-9
    Nakhon Phanom RTAFB

  5. To those of you who were fortunate to share your lives, during such a time of trial, with your canine partners, your comments on this day of remembrance are very special. Your tributes to your K-9 companions complement so well Chris Raper’s beautiful prose from the VSPA website.

  6. Man! that brought back some memories of me and my dog Shawn waiting on perimeter road on Osan, AB Korea 6314th SPS K-9. Thanks

  7. They are our most trusted friends. I have depended on him for my safety so many times.

  8. Will Rodgers said it best, “If dogs don’t go to Heaven when they die, I want to go where the dogs go when I die.” Semper Fi Nick 3M69. I still cry 38 years later when I think about how I made it back to the states alive…and you didn’t. There’s something about the unconditional love of a dog that transcends the span of time and the ultimate human condition. God bless the Corps and God bless our DOGS.

  9. I’m with Lapointe.There hasn’t been a day in 38 years that I haven’t thought of Bruiser 8A91. I Remain Semper Fidelis J.T.

  10. I’m putting together an on-line tribute for the military — my way of saying “thank you” to who served and are serving our country presently.

    Via my research I stumbled onto this site. My emotions are so raw, this just did me in. It doesn’t help that I have a special place in my heart for canines. lol

    I’ll be adding a page for war dogs and a link to your page. I hope to have it finished in a week or so. It’ll be posted at http://www.scrapblog.com/myScrapblog/myscrapblog.aspx?gycid=15585f83-74c7-4ed6-a736-91c3612ef10b and entitled “Freedom is not free”

  11. Ohhh so vivid the feelings resurfaced as I read this, The tears, the feeling of lonliness as I said my goodbyes to Stoltz, the gut retching emptiness as I walked away for the last time. Looking back and seeing thoes big brown eyes stareing back, shaking my head and wondering Why? As I sit here looking at his picture I tearfully remember all thoes nights . Stoltz M-126 was my best friend, confidant, my protector, and will forever be a part of my heart and soul. I look forward to the day I will again look into thoes big brown eyes and tell him I have missed him, softly “heel” and walk the path with him through thoes gates. Forever Together at last.

  12. You guys were definitely their best friends, but I guess they knew that.

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  14. do you have this photo in color? (the dog at the wall)
    if so what is the cost for a group of vets (25)

  15. As a dog “guardian” of several rescues, I thank all the brave men and women and CANINES who have served our country with such honor. It is long overdue that the American people realize the sacrifices these dogs make on behalf of their country. They deserve better treatment! God bless you all!

  16. philip drescher

    my military working dog was my partner and my best friend and i miss him. in memory of rampartC036

  17. sheri wells here with the space coast war dog association….pete peters so graciously gave us exclusive use of his photo….you may contact me at 850.562.0334 if you are interested in our organization or the photo which is entitled “where’s my name?”…..thank you for posting this most impressive image and helping spread the service and sacrifice of our military working dogs….you can also find us on facebook (space coast war dog association)…

  18. This is “Pete” Peters. The picture of Prince at the wall is only in black & white because when I originally took his picture in Vietnam, all I could get at the time was black and white film. Since Prince was in black & white, the whole picture was done the same to match.

  19. Very heart breaking, and wonderful!!!

  20. I worked Rusty 775E for 2 tours. Left him there in 69 when I came back to the world. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. Having him as my MWD and trusted friend was the best of life. We shared everything I had including packages from home. RIP Rusty I Miss you.

  21. Il handled Rusty at Phu Cat Ab RVN 67-69.

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