Memorial Day: Remembering Military Dog Teams

Big Paw Pet Care Memorial Day

US Military Malinois in Iraq

Many of us may spend the Memorial Day visiting grave sites or memorials for loved ones who have served their country. Others will take in a parade honoring our soldiers who have made the greatest sacrifice of all for their country. Each year, Big Paw Pet Care also takes a moment to remember the soldiers and dog teams of our military who work together to keep us safe and free.

Big Paw Pet Care Memorial Day

U.S. Army scout dog “Chief” on patrol in Vietnam.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Originally called Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorating the Union and Confederate dead. But in the 20th century Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who have died serving the United States of America. The first official use of dogs for military purposes in the United States was during the Seminole Wars. The American Pit Bull Terrier was used in the American Civil War to protect, send messages, and as mascots in American World War I propaganda and recruiting posters.

Big Paw Pet Care Memorial Day

Dogs heading to the front lines of the Solomon Islands. Pacific, 1943.

In October 2013 the first National Monument dedicated to military so dogs debuted in San Antonio Texas. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument was created by sculptor Paula Slater and depicts the modern military handler and four dogs — a Doberman, German shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois, all breeds used in wars. The 5 figures stand on a pedestal, in front of a large granite wall. On one side of the wall there will be photos etched in black marble veneer showing dog teams in combat from the different wars.

memorial day

The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument at night.

The other side has an inscription written by John Burnam. Burnam is a veteran of the Vietnam war with the Army’s 44th Scout Dog Platoon. He worked with 2 different dogs during that period, Timber and Clipper and is the author of 2 books about his experiences, “Dog Tags of Courage” and “A Soldier’s Best Friend.”. “[Clipper] saved my life and saved the lives of others by alerting on ambushes, snipers and booby traps. I wanted to give something back to these animals that have done so much and asked for so little, except for food and water and the love of their handlers,” said Burnam.

The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is located at JBSA Lackland and maintained by the Airman Heritage Foundation. For more information, please visit the monument’s Facebook page


Article sources: and the former foundation:

Speak Your Mind