War Dog Monument
The Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial formally dedicated its War Dogs Monument at the state Memorial site on Sunday, September 18, 2011.
A large crowd of Vietnam veterans, Vietnam dog handlers, law enforcement agencies, Gold Star mothers, friends and families joined several retired and active-duty military and law enforcement service dogs for the historic occasion.
The Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial made history on September 18, 2011, when it dedicated its War Dogs Monument. This is the first monument in the United States specifically honoring the service and sacrifice of the 4,000 war dogs who served in Vietnam, which is located on site and is an integral part of a state Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The granite used to construct the monument is from the same shipment used to create the monoliths used at the state memorial’s Place of Words and Place of Names.
Those attending the dedication ceremony included war dogs, Vietnam veterans, authors and experts on military war dogs, civilian law enforcement service dogs (K-9s) and their handlers, and a search-and-rescue dog and his handler who participated in the recovery of survivors and victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
The monument bears three inscriptions, as follows:
IN HONOR OF THE DEVOTION, SERVICE AND SACRIFICE OF THE 4,000 WAR DOGS AND THEIR HANDLERS WHO SERVED IN VIETNAM, 1965-1975.
THESE DOGS, USUALLY GERMAN SHEPHERDS, WERE KNOWN AS K-9s. DESPITE THEIR BRAVERY AND DEDICATION TO DUTY, THE K-9s WERE CLASSIFIED AS ‘EQUIPMENT’ DURING THE VIETNAM WAR, AND THOSE NOT KILLED IN ACTION OR BY DISEASE WERE ROUTINELY DESTROYED OR LEFT BEHIND ON ORDERS OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT WHEN THEIR HANDLERS RETURNED HOME. THE FATES OF MOST OF THESE LOYAL PARTNERS REMAIN UNKNOWN.
THESE PRACTICES CONTINUED UNTIL 2000, WHEN A LAW WAS PASSED REQUIRING THE GOVERNMENT TO PUT SURPLUS OR RETIRED MILITARY SERVICE DOGS UP FOR ADOPTION BY QUALIFIED CIVILIANS OR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. THE FIRST CIVILIAN ADOPTION OCCURRED IN MASSACHUSETTS IN 2002.
DURING THE VIETNAM WAR, THE K-9s PERFORMED DUTY AS SENTRIES, SCOUTS, TRACKERS AND MINE AND TUNNEL DETECTORS. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THE K-9s SAVED MORE THAN 10,000 LIVES AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS’ WORTH OF EQUIPMENT, EARNING THEM THE DEVOTION OF THEIR HANDLERS AND THE ADMIRATION OF A GRATEFUL NATION.
MORE THAN 100,000 MILITARY SERVICE DOGS HAVE SERVED THEIR COUNTRY SINCE WORLD WAR I, AND THEIR DESCENDANTS REMAIN AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES TO THIS DAY.
HE IS YOUR FRIEND, YOUR PARTNER, YOUR DEFENDER, YOUR DOG.
YOU ARE HIS LIFE, HIS LOVE, HIS LEADER.
HE WILL BE YOURS, FAITHFUL AND TRUE,
TO THE LAST BEAT OF HIS HEART.
YOU OWE IT TO HIM TO BE WORTHY OF SUCH DEVOTION.