War Dog Memorial

March Air Force Base, CA.

See War Dog Memorial, Illinois HERE

 

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On Monday Feb. 21st, I attended the dedication for the War Dog Memorial. I arrived about thirty minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to start. As I was waiting for the light to change on Van Buren Blvd., I looked at the number of cars waiting in line to park and wished I had gotten there sooner. I ended up parking just outside of the gate. I put on my raincoat, grabbed Simon and my digital camera and headed over to the large crowd of people. (in the rain)

ffd805a1.jpg (20757 bytes) As the ceremony began, the band played "Gone But Not Forgotten" from their CD which the band made specially for the War Dog Memorial. After the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, Tom Mitchell, who is Chairman of the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association spoke briefly and introduced Jeff Bennett, President of the War Dog Memorial Association. Jeff said "We did it!", referring to the twelve month goal of having the War Dog Memorial in place after the Discovery Channel aired "The War Dog" video.

Then Hal Austin, President of the March Field Museum Foundation spoke. He said even though he wasn't a dog handler, he was stationed at several Air Force bases that did have dog training facilities.

After the fly-over, the main speaker, State Supreme Court Associate Justice Ming W. Chin told about his combat tour in Vietnam as an Army officer. He said after he graduated from law school, he was ready to go to a court and be a lawyer but instead he got shipped to Vietnam. I kind of related to him because even though I didn't go to law school, getting shipped off to Vietnam also interrupted my life. He said that when the plane landed in Vietnam just a few miles from the DMZ, the pilot announced that the airfield was under attack and to get out of the plane quickly so he can take off. Then he said that about the dogs, there was never any question whether a soldier could count on his war dog. Unfortunately, the rain started coming down even harder so he had to shorten his speech a little.

Then the unveiling took place. The statue is awesome and depicts a German Shepherd sitting on alert held on leash by a soldier. The statue brought tears to the eyes of many veterans who paused for a moment, touched the statue and then placed roses next to the dog.
While I was waiting to get a better shot with my camera, a teary-eyed veteran was standing near me talking to a reporter about his dog in Vietnam. I overheard enough to get a picture similar to the "War Dog" video.
I also heard there was pictures posted inside the building so Simon and I went inside. It was also nice to get out of the rain. While I was walking around, a lady with a very young boy said to me, your dog looks as interested in this museum as my 5-year-old does.
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I went back outside and the rain stopped so I went over to where the police dog demonstration was. Several cities were represented. It was very impressive to watch not only the dogs biting the bad guy but also when the dogs had to change from running and attacking to just stop and bark. There were fewer people standing in front of the statue so I went over and took one last picture which you see at the top of this page, and left after that.

Larry Ferris

Note: The museum is open 10 am to 4 pm seven days a week excluding holidays (Labor Day to Memorial Day) and weekends only 10 am to 5 pm (Memorial Day to Labor Day). The museum is located right off the I-215 freeway and exit Van Buren Blvd.

Note: GSD-L would like to thank Larry for writing this synopsis of what happened on this wonderful day to honor our brave and courageous dogs during the Viet Nam war. To see more of the pictures you can go here.

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