Devil Dogs, indeed

Official U.S. Marine Corps Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104294

Official U.S. Marine Corps Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104294

Iwo Jima Operation, 1945.

(Quoted from the original photo caption released on 27 February 1945): “Two Marines – ‘Dutch’, a Doberman Pinscher Marine War Dog stands guard as his partner, Pfc. Reg P. Hester, 7th War Dog Platoon, 25th Regiment, Fifth Marine Division, grabs a little sleep in a volcanic ash foxhole on Iwo Jima. Teams like this eliminated many Jap snipers who played dead inside of blasted pillboxes.”

Note pack and M1 Carbine on the foxhole lip. The original photograph came from Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison’s World War II history project working files. It was provided to Morison by E.J. Long.

The Marines’ love affair with Dobes started when Marine War Dog Training School was stood up 18 January 1943, under the direction of Captain Samuel T. Brick. Some 14 Doberman Pinschers were donated by the Baltimore, Maryland and Canton, Ohio members of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America (though the first war dog sworn in was a Boxer named Fritz).

The War Dog Training Center was quickly established at Camp Knox, site of a former CCC camp aboard Camp Lejeune, eventually setting up 7 War Dog Platoons, each of some 24 military working dogs (later doubled) and about twice that many handlers, instructors and headquarters personnel to include at least one veterinarian.

All went to the Pacific.

According to one site:

The Dobes had to be at least 50 pounds and stand twenty inches high at the withers. Dogs who failed the tests for one reason or another were sent home.

Dobes began their training as Privates. They were promoted on the basis of their length of service. After three months the Dobe became a Private First Class, one year a Corporal, two years a Sergeant, three years a Platoon Sergeant, four years a Gunner Sergeant, and after five years a Master Gunner Sergeant. The Dobes could eventually outrank their handlers.

While towards the end of the war German Shepherds replaced Dobes as the preferred breed, some 892 Marine war dogs processed during the conflict, with a slim majority going overseas being Pinschers. Most were donated directly by dog owners and kennel clubs, while 132 came from the Army Quartermaster Corps.

In Guam, one particularly heavy engagement for the Marine K9s, of the 60 that landed there some 14 dogs were killed in action and 11 others died from exhaustion, tropical illness, heat stroke, accidents, and anemia from hookworm. All were buried in Guam in what is now the first war dog memorial.

The memorial was created by former 1st Lt. William W. Putney, who was the veterinarian for the 3rd Marine War Dog Platoon on Guam. A life-size bronze statue, “Always Faithful” was created by artist, Susan Bahary, in 1994.

It is topped with a Dobe.


At the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, are 11 small boxes containing the individual Dog Record Books of each canine who enrolled in the Marine Corps from December 15, 1942, to August 15, 1945.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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