The Korean Conflict
War Dogs of the Korean War
Use of Dogs in Combat
Before the outbreak of hostilities in Korea the Army was using dogs in Seoul for sentry duty around warehouses and storage areas. More than one hundred dogs were stationed there and their work proved extremely beneficial in reducing theft and pilferage.
When fighting began in Korea, there was one Infantry scout dog platoon in training at Fort Riley Kansas which was sent over there to assist combat patrols. This Platoon, the 26th saw almost continuous service and opened the eyes of many regimental commanders to the potential value of dogs attached to patrols. One regimental commander remarked that after using a dog for a while patrols did not want to go out without them. This one platoon was not capable of spreading itself thin enough to fill the demand.
The 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon was cited in General Orders, Department of the Army, No. 21, 27 February- 1953, as follows:
“The 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon is cited for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services in direct support of combat operations in Korea during the period 12 June 1951 to 15 January 1953. The 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, during its service in Korea, has participated in hundreds of combat patrol actions by supporting the patrols with the
services of an expert scout dog handler and his highly trained scout dog. The members of the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon while participating in these patrols were invariably located at the most vulnerable points in the patrol formation in order that the special aptitudes of the trained dog could be most advantageously used to give warning of the presence of the enemy, The unbroken record of faithful and gallant performance of these missions by the individual handlers and their dogs in support of patrols has saved countless casualties through giving early warning to the friendly patrol of threats to its security. The full value of the services rendered by the 26th Infantry
Scout Dog Platoon is nowhere better understood and more highly recognized than among the members of the patrols with whom the scout dog handlers and their dogs have operated, When not committed to action, the soldiers of the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon have given unfailing efforts to further developing
their personal skills as well as that of their dogs in order to better perform the rigorous duties which are required of them while on patrol. Throughout its long period of difficult and hazardous service, the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon has never failed those with whom it served; has consistently shown outstanding devotion to duty in the performance of all of its other duties, and has won on the battlefield a degree of respect and admiration which has established it as a unit of the greatest importance to the Eighth United States Army. The outstanding performance of duty proficiency, and esprit de corps invariably exhibited by the personnel of this platoon reflect the greatest credit on themselves and the military service of the United States.” – (General Orders 114, Headquarters, Eighth United States Army, Korea, 18 January 1953).
As a result of the outstanding service rendered by the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, recommendation was made and approved for the activation of a scout dog platoon to be attached to each Division in Korea, but the war reached the “peace talks” stage before five additional platoons were trained and shipped to Korea.
Sentry dogs were used by the Army and the Air Force for guarding bases and supply points in Korea, Japan and Okinawa. The psychological effect of the dogs’ presence is difficult to estimate yet the fact remains that innumerable individuals have reported that when a dog and handle were assigned to an area pilferage stopped. When the Conflict was over, scout dogs not assigned to Infantry Divisions were retrained for sentry works.
War Dog Receiving and Holding Station, Cameron Station, Va.
On 11 July 1951 at the outset of Korean hostilities a War Dog Receiving and Holding Station was activated at Cameron Station Alexandria, Virginia, where newly purchased dogs were processed and conditioned before they were shipped to the Amy Dog Training Center, Fort Carson Colorado. This Station was placed in a stand-by status on 4 May 1954
after peace negotiations had ended the fighting.
Section III – Post-Korean Program
Return of Scout Dog YORK – Canine Veteran of Korean Conflict
Authority was granted on 8 May 1957 for the return of the scout dog YORK Brand Number O11X, from the Far East. YORK was decorated for outstanding service as a scout dog while serving with the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon in Korea. He was given a Distinguished Service Award by General Samuel T. Williams for performing 148 combat Patrols between 12 June 1951 and 26 June 1953. He was accompanied on his return trip to the United States by a returning enlisted man and delivered to the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson Colorado to be used as a member of a demonstration team. It was felt that YORK would help improve public relations by arousing more interest in the recruitment and procurement of dogs for military purposes. When the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson was deactivated on I July 1957 YORK was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia, to be attached to the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon at that Station.
Deactivation of the Army Dog Training Center, Fort-Carson, Colo.
A study was made by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff in the latter part of 1956 to determine the cost of operating the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson Colo. and whether, in view of limited dog requirements the activity should continue. The Center was then being used largely for the training of Air Force dogs on a prorated cost basis.
On 29 December 1956, the following decisions were announced:
That the Army Dog Training Center will be discontinued prior to 30 June 1957.
That no funds or personnel will be programmed for this activity in Fiscal 1958.
That the Air Force be given an opportunity to take over and run the dog training operation.
The Air Force decided not to conduct training operations at Fort Carson and the Center was closed as directed on I July 1957.
Public Support of War Dog Program
Erroneous publicity indicated that the “K-9 Corps” would be disbanded simultaneously with the closing of the Training Center. As a deluge of protests from individuals and organizations was received.
The following letters addressed directly to the Secretary of Defense are indicative of the feelings expressed:
“I strongly request you to reconsider demobilizing the K-9 Corps. These dogs performed a very useful service during the war as I can personally attest to, I owe my life to one of these dogs. While fighting in Korea I was attacked and one of these dogs took over my attacker and I was able to recover my footing and escaped. Please reconsider.” – Submitted by Frank Conanno, 1470 Third Street, West Babylon, N. Y.
“I have read in various periodicals your intention of disbanding the K-9 Corps. I am taking this means of voicing my objection to such a move.
“As a Gold Star Mother, I believe I understand the meaning of losing some one close. Various reports coming back from the battlefields in World War II and the Korean Conflict have given detailed descriptions of how these wonderful dogs saved many American lives.
“Please before you abandon this work; attempt to economize somewhere else and keep these wonderful animals on the job.” Submitted by Mrs. H. Distel, 686 W. 18th Street, Garden., Calif.
“I am in the Army and was put into the scout dog platoon and trained dogs for nine months in the States and have had the same dog all the times. This dog STAR has saved my life and about twelve other men’s lives. I would like to know if there is any way that I could have him discharged the same time that I am. I would gladly pay the Government for the dog and take all the responsibility for him.
“I would appreciate it very much if you could help me in any way so I could take him home with me. This dog is not dangerous and would be suitable to civilian life.” – Submitted by Cpl, Max Meyers, 26th Infantry, Scout Dog Platoon, APO #60 San Francisco, Calif.
“I am writing to protest against the effort to dispose of the Army’s dogs. Dogs are indispensable in our Army. I know many other persons who feel this way.
“A dog has nature’s own radar; his nose. Ha can notice things even in the dark. He is courageous, noble, trustworthy and honest. His ears are keener than human ears. He is a swift messenger, There isn’t a thing on this old Mother Earth that is so faithful, so loyal, so willing to give his life for his master than a dog. “Disposing of the dogs would be the greatest mistake that the Army could make.” – Submitted by Wendy Bogue, Eau Claire, Wis..
Current Dog Procurement Activities
The Army Dog Procurement Program resulting from the Korean Conflict
came to an abrupt standstill as soon as hostilities ceased. Most of the dogs on hand in the Far East Command and those enroute to that area were scout dogs. When they were put on sentry duty to guard supplies and equipment in an effort to reduce pilferage, a surplus of dogs was produced in some areas which took care of normal replacement procurement for a full year.
Infantry Scout Dog Platoons in CONUS
Infantry Scout Dog Platoon were assigned to installations in CONUS as follows:
25th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Ord, California
26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Benning, Georgia
44th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Benning, Georgia
48th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Riley., Kansas
49th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, Fort Lewis, Washington
On 22 March 1957, a pilot program for using sentry dogs to guard NIKE sites throughout the country was approved, Ten dogs and their handlers, men attached to the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Command, comprised the initial program. If at the expiration of a suitable trial period it is determined that the program is a success additional dogs at the rate of 30 per month until about 300 dogs have been procured will be used to guard other sites*.
In line with the Department of Defense austerity program in the fall of 1957; the 25th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon was deactivated on 23 September 1957. The 44th, 48th and 49th Infantry Scout Dog Platoons were deactivated on 1 November 1957. This again left the 26th as the only remaining Infantry- Scout Dog Platoon in CONUS, It is being retained as a training unit at Fort Benning., Georgia.
Dogs Used in Overseas Commands
In the Army as a whole, there remains a small number of sledge dogs on duty in Alaska; 4 sentry dogs in the Caribbean Command, used to protect over 43,000 circuit miles of subterranean cable valued at approximately $2 ,000 000; and approximately 250 in the Far East Command and 500 in EUCOM (European Command) as of 1 November 1957.
Procurement of Dogs for Department of the Air Force
During the latter part of Fiscal Year 1955, representatives of the Strategic Air Command, Department of the Air Force, consulted representatives of the Office of The Quartermaster General relative to large-scale procurement of sentry dogs to relieve the manpower shortage,
by guarding air fields, materiel and equipment. Arrangements were made for such procurement by the Quartermaster Corps and for delivery of procured dogs to the Army Dog Training Center, Fort Carson, Colorado, for training,
During Fiscal Year 1956, 593 dogs were procured and trained for the Department of the Air Force. A similar procurement program was begun in Fiscal Year 1957, but mid-way through the program the decision to close the Army Dog Training Center at Fort Carson was made and all procurement suspended pending establishment of suitable training facilities by the Department of Air Force. During the fiscal year, prior to suspension of procurement, 382 dogs had been purchased and trained for the Air Forces.
Present Status of Army Dog Program
Army scout dog training is currently being conducted in CONUS by using units. A few sentry dog replacements are also being trained by the 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon at Fort Benning, Georgia. As long as the Quartermaster Corps is responsible for the procurement of animals for military purposes it will be necessary to maintain a minimum staff in the Office of The Quartermaster General to provide the unique skills required to administer procurement programs, and to form a nucleus organization capable of expansion in the event of an emergency. Current staffing is one full-time civilian employee and one Animal Purchase Board to function as needed.