Memorial Day is depressing, because war is depressing. And the thought the poor dogs who are sent into combat – so trusting and loyal – just breaks my heart. So, I was going to take the day off. No post. Just a moment of silence.
Then I discovered Smoky, a four-pound Yorkshire Terrier and hero of WW II. And, well, I had to share her story.
Found in the jungles of New Guinea in 1944, and sold to a dog-loving soldier named Bill Wynne, Smoky soon became a member of the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron. She flew 12 combat air/sea rescue missions and survived numerous typhoons and kamikaze attacks.
Autographed (paw print) photo of Smoky in her uniform
Smoky also became a true war hero at Luzon airfield when she pulled a string, attached to vital phone wires, through a 70 foot long , 8 inch diameter pipe. As Bill writes in his memoir Yorkie Doodle Dandy, 'Without Smoky, it would have taken the troops at least 3 days to dig up, lay wires and replace the strip, putting 40 US fighter and recon planes in peril of destruction by enemy bombings."
Yes, that's Smoky parachuting!
But her true calling was entertaining the troops perfecting dozens of tricks to cheer up the boys in the hospitals as they tried to heal.
After the war, she returned to the States with Bill and continued her career in the entertainment business, performing live on stage and TV for 10 years.
Smoky died on February 21, 1957 at age 14. But she lives on in the numerous memorials to her throughout the country where she is remembered as one of the greatest and most beloved dog heroes of all time.
All photos courtesy of Bill Wynne. Visit his website to see more.