Smoky was a tiny Yorkshire terrier that seemed to know that she had a mission on Earth. In World War II, an Australian soldier found her huddled in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle — possibly left behind by retreating Japanese soldiers — and took her back to camp.
Standing just 7 inches tall, the furry little terrier weighed only 4 pounds.
Needing money for a poker game, the Aussie sold her to U.S. Army Air Corps Cpl. William A. Wynne for £2 — then worth $6.44.
He named her Smoky, and for the next two harrowing years, the two were inseparable.
In New Guinea, they shared a tent — Smoky sleeping on a blanket made from a green felt card table cover — and sharing C-ration food, the heat and the danger, and traveling from one battle location to the next.
Occasionally, she would enjoy the luxury of a can of Spam.
Smoky will always be remembered as the smallest War Dog hero in U.S. military history.
Bill Wynne from Cleveland was trained in photography by the Army Air Corps at their Photo Lab Technician School and Aerial Photo School in Colorado. Then he was assigned to the 26th Photo Recon Squadron in the South Pacific.
In New Guinea, he and Smoky flew on 12 air/sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions in PBY Catalina seaplanes, and on the ground survived 150 Japanese air raids.
When the battle front moved north to Okinawa, the 23-year-old corporal and Smoky the Yorkie were there. One day on an LST ship, Smoky’s sharp ears heard an incoming shell and somehow warned Wynne, who ducked in time to escape injury. Eight others around him were killed.
Before enlisting in the Army, Wynne learned how to train dogs, so he started training Smoky — much more than just “sit-stay.”
When Allied forces returned to the Philippines to drive out the Japanese, Smoky had a chance to show the skills that Bill Wynne taught her.
During a heavy bombardment at an airfield on the main island Luzon, it was critical to run a communications wire across a runway to link three squadrons.
Easiest way was to dig a trench, but that would expose the men to enemy fire. Another way was to run the wire through a damaged 70-foot-long, 8-inch pipeline already under the runway.
Smoky was brought in to help — her tiny body able to fit in the pipeline.
Wynne tied a string attached to the wire to Smoky’s collar and sent her in. Despite difficulties crawling through the damaged pipe, she made it all the way and the wire was pulled through.
That accomplishment was credited with saving the lives of some 250 men and 40 planes that day.
Smoky’s fame grew and Yank Magazine picked up her story. After Manila was liberated, Smoky and Bill toured hospitals together to boost the morale of the wounded — Smoky performing tricks he’d taught her.
Brought back to America, she would become a touring celebrity in Hollywood and around the nation, in the news media and TV shows and at veteran hospitals.
She was America’s first therapy dog.
Awards poured in.
Smoky died in 1957 at age 14 and is buried in a World War II .30-calibre ammo box under a beautiful monument to war dogs at Cleveland Metroparks, Rocky River Reservation in Lakewood, Ohio.
After Smoky went to Dog Heaven, Bill Wynne married and with his wife raised nine children, worked for NASA and became a noted photojournalist, earning numerous awards.
The mutt and her master helped win the biggest war in history.
Newfoundland dogs are big strong, fearless, can pull heavy fisherman nets, carry big loads — and they love to swim. They are loyal, gentle and alert watchdogs.
Many times on their epic 7,700-mile Corps of Discovery journey across America in 1804-06, the Lewis and Clark expedition was warned by their big Newf dog that danger was nearby.
His name was Seaman. When some indians first saw him, they thought he was a bear.
While waiting for completion of his expedition boats in Pittsburg, Capt. Meriwether Lewis bought Seaman for $20. Lewis quickly learned that the big dog had an unexpected talent — he was good at catching squirrels, which Lewis said were very tasty “once fryed.”
Later in the expedition, a buffalo calf followed Seaman around — probably having been separated from its mother and thinking he was part of the herd. The two parted once the crew boarded their river boat.
Lewis wrote in his journal about the time Seaman was badly injured while beaver hunting with one of the men. The beaver was shot and wounded when Seaman jumped into the water to fetch him. The beaver bit him on his hind leg, severing an artery that bled profusely.
Lewis and Clark quickly applied first aid and saved his life.
Just 10 days later, Seaman became a hero: One night a buffalo bull rampaged through the camp almost trampling some of the men, and then charged toward the officers’ bivouac — stomping and breaking stacked firearms.
Seaman went into attack mode and chased the brute away.
The year after the expedition returned to civilization — leaving a new chapter in American history behind them — Meriwether Lewis either committed suicide due to ongoing depression or was murdered. Historians are still studying.
It’s unclear what happened to Seaman. He wasn’t mentioned very often in the expedition’s journals. Had he not survived, they would most likely have written about it.
In a book about epitaphs and inscriptions of those times, author Timothy Alden told about an inscription on a dog collar donated to a museum in Alexandria, Va., that read: “The greatest traveler of my species. The name is SEAMAN, the dog of captain Meriwether Lewis whom I accompanied to the Pacifick ocean through the interior of the continent of North America.”
The museum caught fire in 1871 and the collar has never been seen since.
Alden did say this about Seaman: “The fidelity and attachment of this animal were remarkable. After the melancholy exit of gov. Lewis, his dog would not depart for a moment from his lifeless remains; and when they were deposited in the earth no gentle means could draw him from the spot of interment. He refused to take every kind of food, which was offered him, and actually pined away and died with grief upon his master’s grave.”
Across the nation, there are statues and monuments honoring the noble dog that helped open the West.
Nemo was a German Shepherd bought by the U.S. Air Force from an Air Force sergeant in the summer of 1964. He was trained for sentry duty at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, and then posted to Fairchild AFB in Spokane.
Next was Vietnam.
On a steamy tropical night in Vietnam in December 1966, Airman 1st Class Robert A. Throneburg of Charlotte, N.C., and his 85-pound German shepherd sentry dog Nemo were on dangerous duty patrolling a Vietnamese cemetery next to Tan Son Nhut Air Base.
Staring into the darkness, Nemo sensed danger. Suddenly, gunfire erupted from some 75 Viet Cong guerillas that had penetrated the area. Throneburg turned Nemo loose and the dog jumped into the enemy — his master firing his weapon and killing two Viet Cong.
Then Throneburg was shot in the shoulder and fell to the ground. Moments later, Nemo was hit under the right eye, the bullet exiting his mouth. Despite the pain, the dog continued his attack — giving his wounded leader enough time to radio for help.
As Security Police raced to the scene, Throneburg fell unconscious.
Nemo crawled on top of the soldier’s body to protect him from harm and wouldn’t let anyone touch him until a veterinarian took Nemo to emergency.
Praised for saving Throneburg’s life, Nemo was hailed as a hero.
Both recovered and were sent home and toured the nation promoting sentry dogs
Nemo was the first dog hero to return from the Vietnam War.
When he retired, Nemo was given a luxury kennel at Lackland AFB, where he died in December 1972 at age 11.
Four thousand war dogs fought in Vietnam and are credited with saving 10,000 lives.
To all the dogs who fought, were wounded and died in all the wars — Thank you for your service!
NEXT WEEK: Part III — The movie dogs
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Contact Syd Albright at email@example.com.
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Smoky and the pipeline…
“I tied a string (tied to the wire) to Smoky’s collar and ran to the other end of the culvert … (Smoky) made a few steps in and then ran back. “Come, Smoky,” I said sharply, and she started through again. When she was about 10 feet in, the string caught up and she looked over her shoulder as much as to say “what’s holding us up there?” The string loosened from the snag and she came on again. By now the dust was rising from the shuffle of her paws as she crawled through the dirt and mold and I could no longer see her. I called and pleaded, not knowing for certain whether she was coming or not. “
At last, about 20 feet away, I saw two little amber eyes and heard a faint whimpering sound … at 15 feet away, she broke into a run. We were so happy at Smoky’s success that we patted and praised her for a full five minutes. I tied a string (tied to the wire) to Smoky’s collar and ran to the other end of the culvert … (Smoky) made a few steps in and then ran back.
“‘Come, Smoky,’ I said sharply, and she started through again. When she was about 10 feet in, the string caught up and she looked over her shoulder as much as to say ‘what’s holding us up there?’
“The string loosened from the snag and she came on again. By now the dust was rising from the shuffle of her paws as she crawled through the dirt and mold and I could no longer see her. I called and pleaded, not knowing for certain whether she was coming or not. At last, about 20 feet away, I saw two little amber eyes and heard a faint whimpering sound … at 15 feet away, she broke into a run.
“We were so happy at Smoky’s success that we patted and praised her for a full five minutes.”
— William A. Wynne, NBC interview
Four-pound package of talent…
“According to Bill Wynne’s book, Yorkie Doodle Dandy: Or, the Other Woman Was a Real Dog, Smoky learned to walk on a drum, peddle a scooter made from an orange crate, control cable pulleys, and walk on a tight rope blindfolded. She even learned how to spell her own name from letters cut from cardboard boxes.”
More than 37 million have seen this video. Enjoy!
Nemo the happy war dog…
“He was a generally happy dog with a sunny disposition. His idea of a good time was rolling around in the wet grass, giving you mock bites that looked savage but were timed perfectly. He would let go the moment he had any part of you between his teeth…”
— Achyutt Dutt, Vietnam veteran
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