- Manual The Quiet Americans : A History of Military Working Dogs
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With the exception of a few sledge dogs in Alaska, America was the only country to take part in World War I with no military service dogs. American troops used borrowed French and British trained dogs in combat. However, the first true American war dog did participate in WWI.
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He was a stray adopted by a soldier in training named Robert Conroy. Stubby saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks, located and comforted the wounded, and most famously caught a German spy by the seat of his pants.
Manual The Quiet Americans : A History of Military Working Dogs
Upon return from active duty, Stuffy was received by presidents Harding and Coolidge. The company commander, Captain Walter Boomer, hoisted the large dog up and put him on the chopper, right on top of Reichenbach. As the chopper descended back at the base, the first thing the waiting medics saw was a big white dog bearing down on them. It was the last time Reichenbach would see Major.
The handler spent the next three months recuperating in a series of different military hospitals before finally returning home to the United States.
Read PDF The Quiet Americans : A History of Military Working Dogs
Meanwhile, Major was immediately paired up with the replacement handler. And, as one of Reichenbach's fellow Marines would tell him later, when this new handler went to meet his new dog, Major was still covered in Reichenbach's blood.
Reichenbach was paired with Major, a Great Dane-Shepherd mix, when he arrived in Vietnam, soon after the dog's first handler was killed. Reichenbach never had another dog. After the war ended, he didn't try to track down Major the way that some handlers did, sending inquiries after their dogs, hoping to adopt them all unsuccessfully. Someone sent him an email once, saying they'd found a record noting that Major died of a jungle disease that had been killing off their dogs. But even if Major was still alive by the time the United States forces pulled out of Vietnam, he, like all but a few of the dogs still in country, would have been left behind.
And many of these military dogs met with an unhappy end—likely euthanized by the South Vietnamese Army, with whom they were left, or worse. Many of the handlers didn't find out for years that their canine partners never made it out of Vietnam alive. This is one of the darkest parts of war dog history, especially considering how valuable they were to U. Roughly 4, dogs served in the war, leading patrols with their handlers through dense jungle terrain.
Overall, they are credited with saving upward of 10, lives.
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After he got out of the Marine Corps, Reichenbach never had another dog, but he still thinks of Major. Whenever some website asks for the name of his first pet as a security question, Reichenbach always lists Major, even though he wasn't really his first dog or really a pet. He was something more.
But," he pauses, thinking for a moment, "it was a useful life. Read part one , part two , and part three. Rebecca Frankel is a senior editor at Foreign Policy Magazine. Read Caption. Dogs at War: Left Behind in Vietnam For centuries military dogs have played important roles on the battlefield.
By Rebecca Frankel , for National Geographic. Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a five-part series.
Coming tomorrow: Smoky, the Healing Dog. Continue Reading.