After much work and restoration, including walkways accessible to disabled vets, the War Dog Memorial has transformed into a beautiful, yet somber place that openly reveals some of the tragedy that had fallen on our military working dogs. I walked over to a large black wall about the Vietnam War and was stunned by what I discovered after inquiring about the 4,234 names on the wall: names of dogs. Dogs were trained and deployed to Vietnam with their military handlers. As negotiations brought the war to an end, and orders came down that the troops were going home, the dog handlers were excited about bringing their loved four-legged combat partners home. That was not to be, for our government classified the dogs as “excess equipment”, with orders that they be left behind. Because of their training they could not be let loose or given to the Vietnamese. They were euthanized.
Weitlauf explained, “To honor these well-trained K9s that saved so many lives the Michigan War Dog Memorial erected a Black Granite Wall with all their names and tattoo numbers to recognize them for their service and sacrifice to our country. They will be forever memorialized and will never be forgotten.” I ran my hand over the wall and easily imagined the pain, anger and intense sadness the handlers and other soldiers felt.