It was April 1994 when my friend Mike Oberlander phoned me about a Marine War Dog reunion. He wanted to know If was interested in going. The reunion was going to be in Ocean City Maryland on May 5th through the 8th. Of course, I immediately said yes.

Well, it turned out that it ended with 6 of us from the 1st. Marine Scout Dog Platoon who served in Vietnam attending.

Mike Oberlander, Steve Reichenbach, George Cramer, Jim Mason, Dave Gradeless and Myself.

We all arrived on May 4th. We all met in the lobby of the hotel at noon on the 5th. We asked the hotel clerk where was the Reunion being held. He told us what room the reunion was in. So, we walked down to the hospitality room for the reunion and walked in.

Once inside of the room, we all looked at each other and said, who are these old people, must be in the wrong room. Just them a women came up to us and said hi I am Betty and asked, Are you here for the War Dog Reunion? We all answered yes.

Then a man came over and said Hi, l am Bill, Betty’s husband. (At this point let’s put two and two together) It turns out Betty and Bill Putney. Captain William Putney. The reunion was a Marine War Dog reunion for Capt. Putney and his dog handlers who served in World War II and these handlers were the Devil Dogs of the South Pacific.

These were the dog teams we only read about in books and now we are going to spend 3 days with these men and their wives.

To make a long story short, we had such a wonderful time with Capt. Putney and his Devil Dogs. They made us feel like brothers, we shared stories together. It was remarkable. Our stories were their stories and their stories were our stories. The only difference was Timeline and Location.

You know they say, Once a Marine Always a Marine. But there also another saying I use. Once a Marine Dog Handler always a Marine Dog Handler. That also goes for other branches of our Armed Forces.

On Saturday night we all attended a banquet, where we all had such a fun time, talking, eating and dancing. Then on Sunday we all had to say our goodbyes, hated for it all to end.

As we were getting ready to leave, saying our goodbyes, one of the handlers came over to me and said, Thanks you for carrying on the tradition of the Marine War Dog Corps, with Honor, Courage and Loyalty. SEMPER FI.

Ron Aiello

U. S. War Dogs Heritage Museum.

Left to right: Jim Mason, Steve Riechenbach, George Cramer, Ron Aiello and Mike (Obie) Oberlander.

Footnote: The jacket we are holding was one of two made in Vietnam. Mike and I had them made. Mine was destroyed by moths. Mike passed away several years ago. At his funeral Mike’s family presented me with his jacket.