Man’s best friend is not the cat. It’s not a bird. It’s not even an iguana. It’s the dog, the faithful, loving, trusting companion of mankind. Ever watchful over its master, the dog has accompanied man everywhere, even into battle. Today’s marks the anniversary when the US Army Quartermaster Corp in 1942 started to train dogs for its War Dog Program or K-9 Corp as it was called. Basic training lasted two to three months and prepared dogs for sentry, patrol, messenger, or mine-detection duty.
One of the most famous of these animal soldiers was “Chips” a mixed German shepherd who single-handedly attacked an enemy machine-gun nest in Sicily and, despite a bullet wound, forced the six-man crew to surrender. Chips was recognized for this brave action with a Silver Star and Purple Heart. Chips captured the heart of Americans and motion pictures later were made about his heroics. More than 10,000 specially trained dogs were deployed during WWII.
Today dogs continue to serve with US military forces around the world. Because of their keen sense of smell, dogs are very useful in detecting minute traces of explosives or narcotics and can alert their handlers to the presence of such substances. In addition dogs can be a strong psychological deterrent, able to inflict fear in adversaries that even other armed soldiers cannot. These amazing creatures have earned love and respect from those who have worked with them and care for them.