As we pause to remember our brave military servicemen and servicewomen on Memorial Day, it is appropriate to remember America’s military service dogs who patrol along with our troops, ferreting out the enemy, guarding fire bases and sniffing out the bombs that have been one of the worst killers of allied forces in our War on Terror. These dogs are special targets of enemy combatants because they can protect troops against IEDs and other traps – they endure battle conditions along with their handlers, and are often wounded – even killed along with our soldiers.
The love between the handlers and their partner dogs often leaves them together back in the United States after they return home.
The use of dogs in the military goes back to ancient times, from the Hyksos Empire to the Egyptians, Sarmations and others, including the Romans. The toughest dog used by the Romans came from the territory Molossia, which the Romans specifically trained for battle. Roman war dogs often went into battle with large spiked metal collars and mail armor – and sometimes fought in special attack formations made entirely of dogs.
Military dogs were used heavily in the wars of the 20th century and continue today, for guard duty, rescue missions, sniffing out contraband, enemies in hiding and weapons. Many breeds of dogs are used today in military and police service.
We’ve picked out a few compelling items on the web about military dogs:
A great album of modern and historical photos and interesting bits on Facebook.
A great story about bomb dog Eli, whose master, Marine Pfc. Colton Rusk was killed by Taliban sniper fire in Afghanistan. The dog, who crawled atop his fallen handler, was adopted by the Rusk family at Lackland AFB after a negotiation with the Marine Corps.
Dogs weren’t an official part of the US Military until World War II, but a pit bull named Sgt. Stubby provided valuable help to members of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division, during more than a dozen major battles. The dog was able to hear incoming shells, and warned men of infiltrators and gas attacks, and was himself wounded. Read about his story.