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Honoring the Dogs of War

The model for the memorial sculpture, by artist Lena Toritch.(Courtesy Sgt. Maj. Chuck Yerry)

A new memorial salutes fallen canine heroes

Parade: In late 2005, Sgt. Maj. Chris Moyer and his unit were on patrol in Iraq’s Western Euphrates River Valley when his canine soldier companion, Valco, detected an enemy sniper lying in wait with an AK-47. The enemy fled into a thick palm grove and the dog gave chase, locating and holding the combatant at bay. But then the trapped sniper opened fire on Valco, killing him instantly.

For Moyer, the loss was profound. He had spent three years as Valco’s handler, with the two deploying together numerous times and rarely separated back home. “It’s very difficult to lose a dog,” says Moyer. “But he did what he was trained to do. When Valco died, he saved our lives in the process.”

Courtesy Sgt. Maj. Chuck YerrySgt. Maj. Chuck Yerry (Courtesy Sgt. Maj. Chuck Yerry)

During Sgt. Maj. Chuck Yerry’s several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Special Operations Forces (SOF), dogs were almost always on his team. “I saw them do things that saved lives every day, like avoid an ambush or detect explosives,” says Yerry. Most retired military dogs are adopted by their handler or another working-dog agency. But what about those that don’t make it home? After being assigned to an SOF kennel at Fort Bragg in 2009, Yerry began to keep track of the dogs that died in war zones around the world. To date, the number of SOF dogs killed in action stands at 58.

Historically, grave markers and individual memorials were paid for by SOF handlers, but Yerry and others believed these four-legged warriors also deserved official recognition. So in May 2010, Yerry, along with a small group of military and civilian advocates, began raising money and lobbying for a memorial, eventually forming the nonprofit SOF K9 Memorial Foundation in 2012. This past spring, the group announced that an official memorial, the first in the nation specifically honoring SOF dogs, would be placed at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C., near Fort Bragg.

The U.S. Armed Forces officially began using dogs in World War II, but the events of 9/11 brought their responsibilities to a new level. The SOF realized that canines had a unique ability to detect both bombs and human attackers, a vital skill in a war with rapidly changing front lines. Today over 2,000 working dogs serve in U.S. military operations around the globe, with about 600 in combat zones. Most are Belgian Malinois or Dutch or German shepherds. Swift and stealthy, they can run at speeds of 35 mph or more and can have up to a 270-degree field of vision. But even among these exceptional dogs, only a small percentage make the final cut for SOF after six to 12 months of military training.

Some of these canine soldiers have received recognition for their valuable contributions: in 2009, a dog named Remco, for charging an insurgent’s hideout in Afghanistan; and in 2011, a Belgian Malinois named Cairo, for participating in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Still, the vast majority go unheralded by the military—something the memorial, unveiled yesterday, will start to remedy.

Artist Lena Toritch sculpted the piece, a life-size bronze Belgian Malinois outfitted with a combat vest and camera. The dog stands near the museum’s parade grounds, facing a statue of Paratrooper Iron Mike. Surrounding the Malinois are granite pavers, each one giving the name, country of origin, and place and year of death of a dog killed in service.

“After seeing these incredible animals in action, I was compelled to do something to honor them,” says Yerry. “They made the ultimate sacrifice.”

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August 3, 2013 - Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Service and Military Animals, Working and Military Dogs and Related

8 Comments »

  1. […] at JustOneMorePet: In late 2005, Sgt. Maj. Chris Moyer and his unit were on patrol in Iraq’s Western Euphrates […]

    Pingback by Honoring the Dogs of War | askmarion | August 3, 2013 | Reply

  2. When a person honors the God of life they will no longer honor those that are dead.
    The human putting the dog and themselves in harms way do not have God smiling upon the people that put them and themselves there. Religions lying about hell made people think they could give it. That to God is a naughty abominable thing to do. How can we honer an abominable thing that would kill our best friend the dog?
    Samual 17,28 :And Eliab his eldist brother heard when he spake unto the men: and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said why camist thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride: and the naughtness of thine heart heart: for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
    Saul was accusing David of being natty for seeing people killing people. The use of naughty then is not what it is now. Religions are reasonable for changing the real biblical meaning.

    James:1 20 – 21, for the wrath of man worketh not the rightiouness of God. Whearfor lay apart all filthyness ,and superfluidy of naugtyness.
    The wrath of man is war. A froward mouth wars against another human being with negative, harmful, accusing words.
    PROVERBS 6:12
    A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

    To lay apart all filthyness, and superfluidy of naugtyness is to lay apart stop – end war and whatever else that is the wrath – vengence of man. That will be a humbling thing to do.
    King James Version
    Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written , Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. God’s vengeance is his light that he wears like a rob.
    Psalm 104:2 KJV
    King James Version
    Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
    Gods ‘s light is a devouring fire. That is what is Hell to evil on judgment day. That day is described in Revelation 20.
    Hebrews 12:29 for our “God is a consuming fire.
    King James Bible
    This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

    Comment by Jonathan Hughes | August 3, 2013 | Reply

  3. When a person honors the God of life they will no longer honor those that are dead.
    The human putting the dog and themselves in harms way do not have God smiling upon the people that put them and themselves there. Religions lying about hell made people think they could give it. That to God is a naughty abominable thing to do. How can we honer an abominable thing that would kill our best friend the dog?

    Pro, 6: 16,These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
    17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
    The blood of the dog is indeed innocent. Innocent blood is shed in war period.
    Samual 17,28 :And Eliab his eldist brother heard when he spake unto the men: and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said why camist thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride: and the naughtness of thine heart heart: for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
    Eliab was accusing David of being natty for seeing people killing people. The use of naughty then is not what it is now. Religions are reasonable for changing the real biblical meaning.

    James:1 20 – 21, for the wrath of man worketh not the rightiouness of God. Whearfor lay apart all filthyness ,and superfluidy of naugtyness.
    The wrath of man is war. A froward mouth wars against another human being with negative, harmful, accusing words.
    PROVERBS 6:12
    A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

    To lay apart all filthyness, and superfluidy of naugtyness is to lay apart stop – end war and whatever else that is the wrath – vengence of man. That will be a humbling thing to do.
    King James Version
    Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written , Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. God’s vengeance is his light that he wears like a rob.
    Psalm 104:2 KJV
    King James Version
    Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
    Gods ‘s light is a devouring fire. That is what is Hell to evil on judgment day. That day is described in Revelation 20.
    Hebrews 12:29 for our “God is a consuming fire.
    King James Bible
    This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

    Comment by Jonathan Hughes | August 3, 2013 | Reply

  4. When peoople worship – honor the dead they make statues with eyes that cannot see.

    Comment by Jonathan Hughes | August 3, 2013 | Reply

  5. When people worship – honor the dead they make statues with eyes that cannot see

    Comment by Jonathan Hughes | August 3, 2013 | Reply

  6. When people worship – honor the dead they make statues with eyes that cannot see.

    Comment by Jonathan Hughes | August 3, 2013 | Reply

  7. […] Honoring the Dogs of War  […]

    Pingback by It’s a Wrap – Ask Marion 7-28-13 – 8.04.13 Edition | askmarion | August 5, 2013 | Reply

  8. […] Honoring the Dogs of War […]

    Pingback by It’s a Wrap – Ask Marion 8-04-13 – 8.11.13 Edition | askmarion | August 12, 2013 | Reply


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