War Dogs

South Carolina honors unconventional heroes

By Kirstie Boone

Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, however, war dogs are of a more prestigious title. They are not only best friends and companions, but also loyal and trustworthy protectors and warriors. The South Carolina War Dog Monument that is being placed in Columbia’s Memorial Park this month honors these deserving war dogs. 

Dogs have been contributing to war efforts as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece. Napoleon wrote in his memoirs about the emotion he felt after seeing a dog killed on the battlefield during his reign in the 1800s. “Never had anything on any battlefield caused me a like emotion,” wrote the French emperor. 

Over one million dogs served during World War I, and a training program for war dogs, K9 Corps, was created by the Quartermaster Corps of the United States Army in 1942. Between 1964 and 1975, nearly 5,000 dogs served the United States. During the Vietnam War, war dogs were used mainly for scouting, tracking, water detection and sentry work. The Navy relied on war dogs to defend bases, ships, supplies and personnel by searching for human beings in and under the water. Unfortunately, due to the severity of warfare, many dogs did not return home as they were deemed “non-essential” by the U.S. Army and were let loose to fend for themselves or turned over to the opposing army. 

“On point your dog is an extension of you, your eyes, nose and ears — never is any step taken for granted but you have your dog working with all his canine senses to save you and those who walk in his footsteps,” says J. Mayo, army scout dog handler with K9 Kelly-819A.

The South Carolina War Dog Monument honors these dependable and honorable traits, found in the many war dogs who have served.   

The S.C. War Dog Monument will be dedicated at Memorial Park in downtown Columbia on Nov. 11 at 3 p.m. Featuring a larger than life sculpture by artist Renee Bemis, this monument will honor all war dogs who have served as companions, warriors and protectors during their service to our country.

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