Some soldiers walk on four feet.
Such is the lesson of Always Faithful, a life-size statue of a Doberman Pinscher at the U.S. Marine Corps War Dog Memorial on the island of Guam. Inscribed in the memorial are the names of 25 dogs that died liberating Guam from the Japanese in 1944.
A replica of the statue was dedicated in memory of these dogs Oct. 31 at the Marine Corps Research Center in Quantico, Va., and in honor of Drs. Erwin Small and William W. Putney. Both men were Marine dog handlers in World War II.
Several notables attended the ceremony, including Brig. Gen. L. H. Hendrickson, president of The Marine Corps University, along with Col. Jack Fournier, chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, and Col. Larry Carpenter, director of the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center in Texas. Joining him were AVMA president, Dr. James H. Brandt; Dr. Niall Finnegan, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division; and Dr. Rosemary LoGiudice, assistant director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division.
Admiring Always Faithful are Drs. McLaughlin; Herb Whitely, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine dean; AVMA President Brandt; and Terry Rathgeber, UI-CVM associate dean
Dr. Small, currently associate dean of alumni and public affairs and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, saw combat on Iwo Jima with the 7th War Dog Platoon. Dr. Putney was part of the 3rd Marine Division as commanding officer of the 3rd War Dog Platoon and 1st War Dog Field Hospital. He recounts in his new book "Always Faithful" how the dogs assisted the Marine troops in the U.S. invasion of Guam in July 1944. (Dr. Putney's book will be reviewed next year in JAVMA.)
The dogs in Guam led more than 550 patrols without a single ambush, but they sometimes paid with their lives. "They died; we lived," Dr. Putney writes. The retired captain's efforts led to the relocation of the War Dog Cemetery from the jungles of Guam to a place of honor at Orote Point on the U.S. naval base, where the memorial was dedicated in 1994.
An inscription on the memorial reads: "25 Marine war dogs gave their lives liberating Guam in 1944. They served as sentries, messengers, scouts. They explored caves, detected mines and booby traps."
Dr. C. David McLaughlin and his wife, Do, of Barrington, Ill., donated the replica to the Marine research center in Quantico. "We felt this was an opportunity to honor not only the valiant dogs who served and gave their lives in defense of our country, but also their Marine handlers and the veterinary profession," Dr. McLaughlin said.