Proud and erect, he stands as a silent monument to his fellow soldiers killed in action. Dressed in full combat gear, his ears are alert for any danger, his four feet ready to spring into action.
This is the first memorial ever erected to the brave dogs who lost their lives in combat. The monument was dedicated July 27 at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“Constant Vigilance,” reads the plaque at the canine statue’s feet.
“The bond between an SOF (Special Operations Forces) handler and his K9 is eternal, trusting each other in a nameless language. Here we honor our SOF K9s that have paid the ultimate price.”
The memorial is a life-sized, bronze statue of a Belgian Malinois dressed in full combat gear. Surrounding the memorial are 58 paver stones listing dogs killed in action. More pavers will be added as funds are raised.
"Like their human counterparts, special operations Multi-Purpose Canines (MPC) are specially selected, trained and equipped to serve in roles not expected of the traditional Military Working Dog (MWD)," said Chuck Yerry, President of the SOF K9 Memorial Foundation.
"Truly daring and brave, these dogs often lead their soldier team-members in the most dire conditions to save lives and complete the mission,” he said.
The Airborne & Special Operations Museum opened on 16 August 2000 - the 40th anniversary of the first jump by the original United States Army's Test Platoon. The ASOM celebrates this day every year.
Part of the U.S. Army Museum System, the museum tells the story of Army airborne and special operations units from 1940 to the present.
"The [ Special Operations Forces K9 Memorial Foundation] saw a need, and what better place than here with history, heroes, and hometown feelings," said Paul Galloway, executive director of the museum foundation.
Before this, Yerry said, handlers and teams would create makeshift memorials for the canines.
"It deserved something more,” Yerry said. “We needed something that recognized sacrifices that they have done for the country and we keep losing these dogs and we need someway to recognize them.”
Countless hours of training go into each of our elite K9's to give them the tools they need to survive on the battlefields of foreign lands. The loyalty and actions of the dogs are simply heroic and they deserve to be remembered.
Visitors can see the memorial day or night outside the museum at 100 Bragg Blvd.