A memorial to the dogs who died helping American Soldiers liberate the

island of Guam during World War II was dedicated Friday at the University

of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Marine War Dog Memorial is the only one of its kind in the country. It

is an exact replica of the official memorial at the U.S. Naval Base in


The dogs, mostly Doberman Pinschers, were "recruited" from civilian life

and trained to serve as mine detectors, messengers and sentries.

Twenty-five of the dogs were killed during fierce fighting on Guam in 1944,

and they are credited with saving hundre

ds of American lives.

Dr. William Putney, retired commanding officer of the 3rd Marine War Dog

Platoon now living in Los Angeles, attended the ceremony. Five other

Marines who served as dog handlers at Guam also attended.

"Patrols with dogs were never ambushed during the war," Putney said. "It's

true the dogs paid a heavy price, but they saved many lives, including my

own." Putney, a veterinarian, provided the health care for the dogs on

Guam, who collectively received 40

Purple Hearts. Putney himself received the Silver Star for destroying an

enemy machine gun position in Guam and was awarded the Purple Heart for

wounds received.

Art Spielman, a Marine dog handler from Alexandria, Va., said his memories

of all the dogs serving in Guam are still vivid, 54 years later. His dog

Bunkie was one who died in action.

"He was a small German Shepard, but it was his instincts that mattered, not

his size," he said.

The interest in using dogs by the Marine Corps began in 1935 when Central

American guerrilla soldiers used dogs as sentries to alert the soldiers.

This lead to the use of dogs in combat during WWII.

Camp LaJuene, N.C. was the home of the War Dog Training School, and a total

of seven War Dog Platoons were trained there. Each dog went through a

rigorous course of obedience for a period of six weeks. After basic

training, the dogs were divided into gro

ups for specialized training: scout, messenger or infantry. Scout dogs were

sent first with the handler to detect mines or enemy troops. Messenger dogs

would follow their handler's trail and carry correspondence or supplies.

Infantry dogs alerted the troo

ps of the enemy's presence.

Handlers were referred to as "dogmen" in the military. Dogs entered the

Marines with the rank of private and could be promoted, sometimes

outranking their handlers.

In August 1945, the War Dog Platoons were disbanded. Many of the dogs were

retrained for civilian life and sent back to their families, while several

remained with their handlers. There were 1,047 dogs enlisted during the

war, with 465 serving in combat.

The bronze statue of a life-sized Doberman Pinscher is the work of

California artist Susan Bahary. It was the gift of Dr. Marice Acree, a

retired physician and client of the veterinary college. Acree has long had

an interest in Doberman dogs and their us

e in the military, and is a friend of Putney.