Military Dogs and Handlers Historical Overview
Specially-trained war dogs working in K-9 units with their handlers have been saving the lives of our military troops since the days of World War One. Many thousands have died in service the United States Armed Forces and very few have been rewarded beyond a pat on the head. (See my article on Bengus: The Air Force Dog.)
Military war dogs and their handlers perform some of the most dangerous and deadly acts on the battlefield apart from the obvious vulnerability of boots on the ground in armed combat. They are always in harm's way along the treacherous front lines as Senator Menendez says:"detecting improvised exploding devices (IEDs), leading search and rescue operations, locating casualties, guarding supplies and patrolling secured perimeters to save countless men and women in uniform serving at their side." (See my article: The Dog Who Took A Bite Out of Isis.)
Up until now, both military war dogs and the K-9 corps that train them have been grossly unappreciated in terms of official recognition for their important services. (See my article on:Lucca: A Military Dog For All Seasons.) two months ago in front of the US War Dogs Memorial in Holmsdel, New Jersey, Senator Menendez announced a proposal that would create an official commendation in the form of a Guardians of American Freedom Medal that would be issued to every branch of the American military.
In the Senator's own words: This award would recognize the valor and meritorious achievement of these highly trained and skilled teams and their extraordinary service and sacrifice in defense of this nation... Military working dogs are soldiers and veterans and should be honored with the teams they serve. If we, as a nation, can strap a Kevlar vest on a dog and send it into battle, then we should be able to pin a medal on its collar..." (See my article on: Officer Andrew Brown and Sergeant Rocky.)
The U.S. War Dog Memorial
Dedicated in June of 2006, this bronze memorial statue was designed by sculptor, Bruce Lindsay, Architectural Division Manager at Johnson Atelier in Mercersville, New Jersey. Set on a black granite base, it depicts a soldier who is kneeling beside his dog and they both stand in perpetual guard at the gateway to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.
Known as the Grounds for Sculpture, this very special park spans 22 acres and is located on the site of the former New Jersey State Fair. The monument bears silent testimony and gratitude to specifically the War Dog teams of the Vietnam War, but generally, its unspoken message is a thank you to all of the handlers and dogs past, present and future who have served valiantly in defense of our nation's liberty.
Hats off to Senator Robert Menendez for caring enough to honor all the noble soldiers of the K-9 units who walk on both two legs and four.
See also: Bretagne