Eighth-grade students at West Brook Middle School in Paramus learned on March 19 about the role dogs play in war, and how man’s best friend can be an amazing bodyguard.
Dogs have been used in the United States military for years, and came to prominence during Vietnam, when their heightened senses were used to detect ambushes and traps, according to Al Gunderson, co-founder of the United States War Dog Association (USWDA). The dogs could smell enemy soldiers from thousands of yards away, hear the wind whistling over tripwires and smell the recent presence of humans where mines had been planted.
Viet Cong soldiers were rewarded not only for recovering fallen soldiers’ dog tags, but for bringing back the tattooed ears that marked a war dog, according to Gunderson. An estimated 263 handlers and 500 dogs were killed over the course of the war.
“If it weren’t for (war dogs), all those different walls honoring different wars would be much bigger,” he said.