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 hundreds 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 groups 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 troops of the enemy's


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

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