SC War Dog Memorial

War Dog Memorial Video

 

173d Airborne Johnny Mayo

 

The Veterans War Dog Monument is complete and headed to Columbia to be placed in Veterans Memorial Park.
The Columbia Star October 23, 2015

By Johnny Mayo

Pictured is the Veterans War Dog Monument taken at the foundry in Northern Illinois where sculptor Renee Bemis created it. It was loaded October 16 and is headed to Columbia to be placed in the Veterans Memorial Park November 11, 2015.

Pictured is the Veterans War Dog Monument taken at the foundry in Northern Illinois where sculptor Renee Bemis created it. It was loaded October 16 and is headed to Columbia to be placed in the Veterans Memorial Park November 11, 2015.

While all working dogs and their human companions are proof of a special bond, perhaps nowhere else is the ancient covenant better exemplified than between soldiers and their K- 9 partners.

In 2012, approximately 1,700 military working dogs were stationed around the world. During the years of war after September 11, over 700 military working dogs served in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the conflicts with 11 dog handlers and eight war dogs killed in action serving in the two war zones.

The use of dogs in Vietnam was the most extensive use of military working dogs in our nation’s history. With the jungle warfare tactics in the Vietnam War, the dog was in his element to serve and protect his handler and the infantrymen who followed in his footsteps.

I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969 and proudly served as an infantry point man, a scout dog handler, with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. I walked point with war dogs Tiger and Kelly. Tiger was killed in action in his fourth day on point when he walked through a booby- trap. Mourning for your K9 partner has to be short lived as the war goes on.

Scout Dog Kelly was Tiger’s replacement, and we were back to the jungle as a new dog team.

Kelly was amazing in his abilities to hunt the enemy and detection… saving my life and the infantrymen following in our footsteps. I was wounded in February 1971 but came home alive because of a dog’s abilities to save lives.

Over 4,000 war dogs served in Vietnam, and nearly 300 war dogs and 267 dog handlers were killed in action in Vietnam.

The Veterans War Dog Monument project for Veterans Memorial Park started on the afternoon of March 12, 2011, when Allen Marshall, park architect and designer of the SC Vietnam Memorial, asked for a meeting with me. Allen asked if I would help build South Carolina a world class monument to the military dogs.

After a great deal of work and help to get the project started, artist Renee Bemis began sculpting the “big” statue in early 2013, and it was finished in October 2015.

A friend from North Carolina took care of all transportation of the statue from Illinois to South Carolina, with a side trip. Plans are to display it for four days in Nashville, Tenn., at our National Vietnam Dog Handler Reunion in late October.

As the reunion ends, the “dog team” will travel to North Carolina with a stop at Camp Lejune, Seymore Johnson AFB, and Fort Bragg during the week before we bring it to South Carolina on Saturday, October 31. There will be a reception area announced later as it arrives in Columbia with a motorcycle escort from the NC/SC line. The ceremony will take place November 11 at Veterans Memorial Park. Times will be announced.

The Veterans War Dog Monument to be located at the beautiful Veterans Memorial Park in Columbia will honor our nation’s military working dogs—WWII to present. Phase II will add bronze statues of the doberman, Labrador retriever, and Belgian malinois to complete the memorial tribute to the four primary K9 breeds serving America since WWII.

The War Dog Monument will be strategically placed on the plaza near the park’s Vietnam Memorial. The spirit of the military working dogs will be “on point” once again.

Veterans War Dog Monument unveiled
the Columbia Star November 20, 2015

Photo and story by Mimi M. Maddock

The Veterans War Dog Monument project for the South Carolina Memorial Park started on the afternoon of March 12, 2011, when Allen Marshall, park architect and designer of the S.C. Vietnam Memorial, asked to meet with Johnny Mayo.

In 1979, Mayo was an infantry point man, a scout dog handler, with the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War. He walked point with war dogs Tiger and Kelley. Mayo was wounded in February 1971 and came home alive because of a “dog’s abilities to save lives.”

Mayo has been dedicated to war dogs ever since, first with his book Buck’s Heroes. Allen asked if Mayo would help build South Carolina a world class monument to the military dogs. And with the creativity of artist Renee Bemis, this idea became a reality at 3 p.m. November 11, 2015, when the sculpture was dedicated and unveiled in the South Carolina Memorial Park.

Many past and present dog handlers, some with their dogs, were at the dedication including the Columbia Police Department K-9 Unit.

The event began with the Presentation of the Colors by the Color Guard from Fort Jackson and the national anthem was sung by Stephanie De Groot. Pastor Andrew Isenhower of St. Luke Lutheran Church gave the invocation, and Charles “Bud” Ferillo Jr., chairman of the South Carolina Memorial Park Commission, welcomed the crowd of hundreds. He completed his welcome by saying the words from the song “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

Dr. Tim Loonan, DVM of Grace Animal Hospital, spoke about being a veteran and a veteranarian.

Mike Lemish, Vietnam historian, told stories of the bravery of war dogs. Bemis spoke about the sculpture and how Mayo’s dog, Kelley’s identification number was put in the sculpture’s ear like the way war dogs’ identification numbers were tatooed in their ears.

Jimmy Forture of The Statler Brothers sang two songs he had written: “More Than A Name On a Wall” and “In God We Trust.”

Mayo and the Vietnam War dog handlers unveiled the sculpture, and South Carolina gave much deserved honor to the thousands of canines who have protected so many.

The ceremony ended with the dismissal of the color guard.

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