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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Pet Talk: Honor our military dogs

  • On Nov. 11, we pay tribute to all American veterans, both living and dead for their service and dedication while keeping our country safe and free. Military Working Dogs (MWDs) also deserve honor and recognition for their role in protecting the safety and security of military missions.
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  • On Nov. 11, we pay tribute to all American veterans, both living and dead for their service and dedication while keeping our country safe and free. Military Working Dogs (MWDs) also deserve honor and recognition for their role in protecting the safety and security of military missions. Each division of our armed forces includes MWDs as valuable members of their teams.
    The 341st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas is the home of the Department of Defense's Military Working Dog Program. The squadron is responsible for raising and training dogs to work with all branches of the military. These dogs are trained to excel in the detection of either explosives or drugs along with performance of patrol duty responsibilities or other highly specific jobs.
    In addition to breeding and training dogs, this squadron is also responsible for training all handlers, kennel masters, and specialized mission dog teams for the DOD. They also support the TSA canine detection program. Lackland is also the site of Holland Working Dog Hospital named after an Army veterinarian killed in action. State of the art medical and surgical care is available for all MWDs that have injury or illness. At any one time, the hospital provides around-the-clock care for over 900 onsite dogs in various stages of life and training.
    Military Working Dogs are involved in dangerous tasks. They often engage in activities that would be impossible for military personnel. MWDs often put their lives at risk, and because of their dedication and training, they have prevented countless injuries and have saved thousands of lives. Many were killed in action while protecting military personnel involved in military missions.
    Training for Navy SEAL dogs is as rigorous as the soldiers' is. They learn things like tandem parachute jumping or rappelling while wearing special harnesses. When the Navy SEALs invaded Osama Bin Laden's compound in Afghanistan, "Cairo", a Belgian Malinois accompanied them. He was wearing super-strong, flexible body Armour and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included "doggles" – specially designed and fitted dog goggles with night-vision and infrared capability that would even allow him to see human heat forms through concrete walls.
    "Lex", a U.S. Marine Corps Bomb Sniffing Dog served two tours of duty in Iraq and was wounded in action at the side of his handler, Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee, who was killed. Although severely wounded, Lex stayed and protected Dustin until help arrived and they were physically separated. Lex was rehabilitated and scheduled to return to duty with a different handler. Corporal Lee's family petitioned and was allowed to adopt Lex instead. Lex lived in peace and harmony with the Lee family in Quitman, Mississippi for four years until his death at age eleven.
    The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument was dedicated Oct. 28, 2013 at Joint Base San Antonio. The founder and inspiration for the national monument is John C. Burnam, a highly decorated Vietnam Infantry Veteran Scout Dog Handler "As a nation we owe our war dogs a tremendous debt of gratitude," said Burnam. "Their selfless service, loyalty and sacrifices to our country must never be forgotten. The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is a treasure for us all to ensure they are honored and remembered forever."
    Page 2 of 2 - This year on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, take a moment to think about, appreciate, and thank a veteran for their service. Remember all those MWDs that are also an integral part of maintaining our country's independence and freedom.

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