Every Veterans Day we remember the men and women who served our country – but what about our canine veterans? Service dogs are an integral part of the U.S. military, doing everything from sniffing out bombs to assisting veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Staten Island War Dog Memorial was officially dedicated on Friday, October 29, 2004, a crisp autumn day before a crowd of service men and women from the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy, members of the New York and New Jersey Police Department K-9 units, veterans and civilians – all of whom gathered to pay respect to the working dogs of the U.S. Military. Retired Marine sergeant and VDHA member Thomas Tucker conceived the memorial to honor the approximately 4,000 canines that served during the Vietnam War. Tucker worked with the Coast Guard on an appropriate site and used donated funds to purchase the monument. With no money left to clear and erect a foundation to support the monument, Staten Island Eagle Scout Jonathan Caban of Boy Scout Troop 37 volunteered to complete this mission as a community service project. Captain Glenn Wiltshire, Captain Michael Moriarty, Sergeant Tucker and others gave countless illustrations of the human-canine bond within the context of military pursuits throughout the ages. The moving ceremony paid tribute to the ultimate sacrifice of our nation’s war dogs, particularly those of the Vietnam era, when military dogs were considered equipment.During the Vietnam War canines accompanied soldiers and performed tasks such as tracking, scouting, sentry, and bomb and mine explosive detection. Tragically, many of the K9’s who served in that conflict never returned from active duty. Of the approximately 4,000 that served only about 200 returned home. The Staten Island War Dog Memorial is located on the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Fort Wadsworth across from the gym. Here at Happy at Home, we want to thank all our veterans for their service to our country, whether on two legs or four.
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