Anniversary of founding on K9 corps; Army not making any friends with failures in adoption process

 
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Anniversary of founding on K9 corps; Army not making any friends with failures in adoption process

Let’s start with the anniversary:

On this day in 1942, the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army begins training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or “K-9 Corps.”

Well over a million dogs served on both sides during World War I, carrying messages along the complex network of trenches and providing some measure of psychological comfort to the soldiers. The most famous dog to emerge from the war was Rin Tin Tin, an abandoned puppy of German war dogs found in France in 1918 and taken to the United States, where he made his film debut in the 1922 silent film The Man from Hell’s River. As the first bona fide animal movie star, Rin Tin Tin made the little-known German Shepherd breed famous across the country.

In the United States, the practice of training dogs for military purposes was largely abandoned after World War I. When the country entered World War II in December 1941, the American Kennel Association and a group called Dogs for Defense began a movement to mobilize dog owners to donate healthy and capable animals to the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army. Training began in March 1942, and that fall the QMC was given the task of training dogs for the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard as well.

K9’s have been a constant discussion at work lately because my boss is absolutely fanatical about the story of Sergeant Stubby (pictured above), who was a card carrying member of the Legion.  From Wiki:

Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry Regiment in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and 17 battles. He entered combat on February 5, 1918, at Chemin des Dames, north of Soissons, and was under constant fire, day and night for over a month. In April 1918, during a raid to take Schieprey, Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by the retreating Germans throwing hand grenades. He was sent to the rear for convalescence, and as he had done on the front was able to improve morale. When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches. He ultimately had two wound stripes.

In his first year of battle Stubby was injured by mustard gas. After he recovered, he returned with a specially designed gas mask to protect him. Also, he learned to warn his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in no man's land, and — since he could hear the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans — became very adept at letting his unit know when to duck for cover. He was solely responsible for capturing a German spy in the Argonne, leading to the commander of the 102 Infantry to nominate Stubby for the rank of sergeant.  However, whether Stubby was actually promoted or even an official member of the Army has been disputed.[8] Following the retaking of Château-Thierry by the US, the women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat on which were pinned his many medals. He also helped free a French town from the Germans. He was later injured in the chest and leg by a grenade. At the end of the war, Robert Conroy smuggled Stubby home.

Anyway, flash forward to today.  When Military Working Dogs retire, they are supposed to go to a family, generally the family of the soldier who worked with him.   It’s not going well:

Staff Sgt. Shawn Martinez stepped off the airplane onto the Kansas tarmac, hunching his shoulders against the gloom of a cold, gray winter’s day and the starkness of coming home. He gave his buddy, Bono, a tactical explosive detection dog, a playful wrestle.

He’d barely taken a few steps when Army contractors approached him to take the dog. After all, Bono was the property of the U.S. Army.

It was wrenching. Martinez and Bono had traversed hell together in Afghanistan in 2012. They’d lost a fellow battle buddy — watching as his life drained away under flying bullets — and bore witness to each other’s pain. Bono had developed shakes and nightmares; he would urinate on himself in moments of stress. Martinez had his own anxiety after three deployments that included a Purple Heart after taking shrapnel in his upper legs from a grenade.

Being abruptly separated as they came home in February 2013 was brutal. “They just didn’t care,” said Martinez. “They threw him in a kennel, and that was that.”

 

You should go read the whole thing, what a travesty.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.