World War II Canine "soldiers" resting place. Guam, an American possession, was invaded by the Japanese soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The small Pacific island had little capabilities to defend itself but managed to hold out for several days. A brutal almost three year occupation followed. The Marines returned in 1944 and in their ranks was a full compliment of dogs, the 3rd Dog Platoon (Devil Dogs) especially trained for jungle warfare. They could search out the occupiers from their hiding place in the dense overgrowth, detect mines and traps, alert troops to approaching Japanese while carrying messages, ammunition and medical supplies. They guarded exhausted sleeping troops in foxholes preventing infiltration. Among the many Marine casualties were the exposed handlers of the canine along with some 25 dogs mostly Dobermans. Upon their deaths, the dogs were taken back to the initial invasion beach at Asan and interred in a small section of the Marine Cemetery. Later small white headstones with their names were erected and it became known as "The War Dog Cemetery Guam." Legacy: Elaborate monuments to war dogs dot the country...March Air force Base, Riverside, California has a 16 foot tall granite and bronze monument located at their museum. The East Coast National War Dog Memorial is at Fort Benning, Georgia located in front of the National Infantry Museum. The famous Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York has an early endeavor with an impressive monument located on the grounds. Small towns like streamwood, Illinois has a tribute in the form of a memorial called, "Guardians." The War Dog Memorial and Cemetery on Guam is the most unique of all the dog memorials because it encompasses an actual cemetery developed as the animals became fatalities then interred in one spot during the islands liberation in World War II. Dr. William W. Putney now a retired Vet who was the commanding officer of the 3rd Dog Platoon, made a nostalgic visit to Guam in 1989. He was barely able to find the cemetery as the jungle had reclaimed the site. A personal campaign persuaded the military commander of the Naval Air Station to designate a new site and the cemetery with the dog remains and markers was relocated in 1994 to the Air Station and would now be maintained by the military. Finally with an ally, the "United Doberman Club' which furnished most of the dogs for the dog platoon, commissioned a memorial and statue which was created by Susan Bahary, noted artist of animal themes and a dog enthusiast. The finished monument was erected and dedicated at the Guam gravesite in 1998 with great fanfare. Dr. Putney joined his dogs, passing away on March 21, 2003 but was able to see the completion of his mission. The monument has the chiseled names of the fallen canines with monikers like Skipper, Missy, Cappy, Silver, KoKo and Blitz. Interesting footnote...Plans are afoot for a proposed National War Dog Memorial in Washington D.C. Activist behind the endeavor have circulated a flyer asking for donations entitled, "Courage at both ends of the leash" with an image of the Vietnam War Memorial wall and a German Shepherd sitting and looking on patiently.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield