Animals in Service to their Country

From the horror and destruction of World War II, there were many stories of bravery of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought for their country. Tales of civilians doing their part for the war effort have also been documented. Not many people have heard the tales of canines and the part they played. The military used trained dogs (the “K-9” Corps) in many ways: as guard dogs, as mine detection “sniffers,” as attack dogs in combat operations and in many other ways.

Dogs were also often mascots who brought emotional comfort and positive morale to soldiers. The “official” military dogs were not the only animals that helped win the war. Soldiers and sailors also had personal pets. These “buddies” boosted the morale of combat-weary, homesick soldiers. One such dog was "Duckworth," the mascot of the 52nd Fighter Group, 4th Fighter Squadron, Army Air Corps. The story of a dog named “Duckworth” tells us of the human emotions that pets evoke—even at the highest levels of command.

Before reaching the ultimate goal of manned space flight, the United States and the Soviet Union utilized animals to study the effects of space travel o biological processes. In November 1957, the Soviets launched a dog named Laika into space on board their second Sputnik mission. Unfortunately, Laika died due to Soviet inability to retrieve their craft once it achieved orbit. In 1959, Able and Baker became the first monkeys to survive spaceflight during a U.S. mission launched from Cape Canaveral , Florida. Able died four days later, while Baker lived at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama until his death in 1984. 

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