January & February 2012
Service Animals and their Handlers: Board member Mike Olson was a sentry dog handler and then turned Vet Tech in Vietnam. He shared his slides, photo albums and stories with us. We converted his slides into digital format and created a movie that was aired in the media room throughout the exhibit. Most people are aware we use or have used dogs, horses and pigeons in our military. Did you know we have used and currently are using dolphins, sea lions, camels, elephants and bears also?
Pigeons: Were used to transport messages back and forth, and also to monitor air quality. If there were poisons in the air it would affect the pigeons before the troops.
Horses: Horses have been used throughout time. They have been an intricate part of our military by transporting our troops, equipment and supplies for centuries.
Bear: During WWII a young bear was traded into a camp for some canned meat and made himself at home. He became an actual member of that company(22nd ASC) with a name(Wojtek) and rank(Private).
He proved to be very useful in transporting heavy supplies and equipment. He even engaged in social time enjoying a beer and a cigarette with the men.
Elephants: Elephants have also been used for centuries. Mainly in thick jungle regions were getting through with vehicles was next to impossible. As they were very strong animals they could transport lots of troops, supplies and equipment at once.
Camels: Camels have been used over the years in desert terrain, as they are more, “sure footed”in the sand and can travel greater distances with less water and less break/rest time.
Dolphins & Sea Lions: These amazing sea animals are trained and used to locate enemy divers and underwater mines. When a diver is located troops are alerted and the sea lions will chase down the enemy divers right up on to land if need be. When underwater mines are located they will alert troops and attach a buoy to it so divers can disarm it safely.
Dogs: There are Sentry, Scout and Tracker dogs used in the military. They are used as guard dogs, to locate mines, bombs, booby traps and ammunition and also to locate enemy troops and our own lost, wounded or dead soldiers. They also serve as much needed companions.
Handlers: Handlers of all these animals spend nearly 24 hours a day with their animal.Animals and Handlers participate in these activities every day: training, exercising, grooming, bonding, health care and on duty hours.