Approved by U.S. Congress    (Public Law 110-181, Section 2877)   Congressional Sponsor:  U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones, NC

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  • Celebrity Spotlight

    Celebrity Spotlight

    WAR DOGS and NAM… by Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys


    I hope that folks will take the time to read this little commentary, because this subject has become very close to the heart of ALL The Oak Ridge Boys.

    It seems that I'm finding myself reading a lot about Vietnam these days. I think it is because I have run into a bunch of appreciative Veterans who have either read my book G.I. Joe and Lillie or have listened to the Oaks CD COLORS or have seen the BOYS perform at the Vietnam Welcome Home concert in Branson in 2005.

    This is not a political opinion or a positive or negative account of my feelings on this war, or any war for that matter, but instead I would like to write a few words about some unsung heroes of Vietnam . Much like World War I and World War II, our troops utilized the service of man's best friend to help fight the enemy on foreign soil. Dogs of all kinds were drafted into service, many of them German Shepherds.

    The Oaks with Larry Chilcoat, an Air Force security policeman and sentry dog handler during the Vietnam War. Chilcoat introduced the Oaks to the National War Dog Monument project.

    These canines and their handlers did some incredible things in country that very few of us know much about, and they paid an ultimate price for their service as well.

    I want to point you to a documentary called WAR DOGS AMERICAS FORGOTTEN HEROES and a book by John Burnam called Dog Tags of Courage, and a website JBMF.US. All of this will be explained to you there much better than I can write it. And if you are moved by any of what you see and hear, I hope that you will help The Oak Ridge Boys by joining in an effort to build a national monument in Washington D. C. to honor these canine heroes.

    Here is a copy of the letter that we sent to the sponsoring congressman…

    Congressman Walter Jones:

    The Oak Ridge Boys have tremendous admiration for those who have served our great nation in the time of war. History has shown that we owe our very freedom to our military, and that includes the brave canine soldiers who have served beside our men and women.

    We want to thank you for sponsoring a bill to authorize a national monument in honor of military working dog teams. We believe that paying homage to the dogs underscores the important work and sacrifice of their human handlers.

    If The Oak Ridge Boys can assist you in your efforts, please let us know.

    These heroic dogs MUST be honored and remembered!

    Thanks for you time and always remember to honor ALL Veterans who have served this great NATION and say thank you to the soldiers who serve us today.

    Joseph S. Bonsall
    P.S. Please go to the John Burnam Monument Fund website (JBMF.US) for all the info on the National War Dog Monument Project.


    MWD Heroes Live Forever By Debbie Kandoll

    January 3, 2010, 3:35 pm. I stepped back in shock and looked at the still form of the exquisite German Shepherd laying on the Vet's table before me. His eyes were peaceful and partially closed. I stroked his soft, shining fur and caressed the black diamond I had kissed on so many occasions realizing that even his forehead was now cold. He looked to be only sleeping, and I vainly watched his side expecting to see the methodical rise and fall of his breathing. Only a few moments before, my darling Benny, the Great and Mighty Warrior, had just valiantly fought--and lost-- his last battle to live on. My Benny…aka MWD Benny B163 (USAF, Ret.)…breathed no more, his amazing heart eternally stilled by the last massive heart attack from which he could not recover. Is there anything one can say or do at a time like that? I hugged him and kissed him, hoping with all my heart that his spirit would feel the depth of my love and devotion for him one last time…as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge perhaps walking obediently at his Angel guide's left side? I pondered how our time together could so suddenly be over. One day less than two full years this amazing retired Military Working Dog lived with us. Our Benny filled every day with joy and love…and SO MANY smiles! How I had longed to adopt a Hero K-9 and give him the comforts of a Forever Home after his life of service to our great Nation.

    My husband was supportive of the idea, but he also asked the logical questions as husbands are known to do. I especially remember him asking "Honey, this dog is 10 years old? Isn't that kind of old for a German Shepherd? What if he doesn't live long?" Funny how one's words come back to haunt or console or enlighten as the case may be. I retorted gallantly "Honey, if this dog…this Benny…we are adopting only lives with us for two weeks our mission will be accomplished! We will have given a home to a MWD Hero…a deserving K-9 soldier! After all…it is NOT about what Benny can do for us…but about what we can do for Benny!"

    Oh, yes! I had it all figured out. What I didn't figure on was the ocean of love and devotion Benny would accord me. How he chose me as his person, and every minute I thought I was taking care of him, Benny's objective was to love, care for and defend me…his "mom"! I have had many German Shepherds and loved each one. It is a noble breed whose loyalty, intelligence and devotion are unsurpassed. Turns out, I only thought I knew about GSDs because Benny displayed a level of commitment to me that I had NEVER before experienced. I began to realize he was viewing me as his HANDLER…and I felt pressed to match the level of excellence and devotion with which Benny regarded me! I felt unworthy of such devotion. It was truly, the most unconditional form of love I will ever experience on this earth. My thoughts turned to Military Working Dog handlers across the ages and wars. This depth of devotion was something that they, too, had experienced as bullets whizzed by and bombs exploded around them. It is an indescribable connection of almost knowing each other's thoughts before they flash through the mind. There are not enough platitudes or sufficient vocabulary to adequately describe this oneness of two distinct creatures: Man and Dog. To witness such a devotion as this from my Benny left me humbled and wondering if I could be an excellent enough partner to deserve such love. Though we faced no enemy or fought no battles together, I was experiencing a miniscule glimpse of what handlers and their MWDs and policemen and their K-9s share daily! Was I worthy? Could I ever be? I still can't answer that question. What I can say is I gave Benny my heart every day of his life. We were not separated for more than three days in the two years my Gallant Benny lived with us. I was forced to leave him when I flew to Italy to rescue another brave hero MWD--one of Benny's "brothers-in-arms"--so he, too, could have a wonderful retirement.

    In my written reflections, I feel as though I have already shared Benny's greatest life accomplishment: his unbelievable capacity to love. Benny brightened and gladdened countless lives as he continued to give in retirement as a certified Therapy Dog. Benny was not content to languish by the fireplace …he wanted a job to do! Truth be known, I believe that all Benny's Therapy Dog "Missions" and his role as the Official Ambassador of Military Working Dog Adoptions gave him great purpose and a reason to "keep on keeping on" ! Benny's greatest joy seemed to be in giving of himself!

    Only because of my special Benny, I met countless wonderful people all across this nation I would never have known. These people, who were awed to meet a genuine, retired MWD that they could actually pet and hug, to this day continue to enrich my life. I am grateful for the comfort of their friendship and support. MWD Benny B163's job in the US Air Force was Narcotics Detection and Patrol. He was one of the best as he performed that function throughout his years of military service. Though he still remembered his former training in retirement, MWD Benny B163 (Ret.) rose to even higher levels of unpredicted expertise in his detection abilities: he was a supreme "Heart Detector"! You see, for the thousands of folks Benny met--even those who were reluctant about "big dogs-- he had the uncanny ability to win hearts and to touch people deeply. Things which I consider "miraculous" happened when Benny went visiting! I witnessed a hospitalized Veteran in Missouri who had not uttered a single intelligible word in six months talk to Benny as the nursing staff wept with joy in disbelief. And on an Alabama elementary school visit, a 10 year old autistic boy who had not spoken all school year, clearly and distinctly uttered" Benny! Dog! Good! Good dog!" Tears flowed from his teacher's eyes, as she asked the incredulous principal if they, too, could get a Therapy Dog for their school! I am certain that recollections of record-making drug busts fade from memory over time, but Benny's legacy will forever live on in all the hearts and minds he captured. Of this I am convinced: two weeks, two years or a lifetime could not have been enough to share with my treasured, precious boy! Benny, I am honored to have been your last handler and "mom". I loved you with all that I am. When my life on this planet is over, and it is my time to cross the Rainbow Bridge, I look forward to gathering you in my arms and kissing you for every day we've been apart.. Rest in peace, my beloved MWD Benny B163. You are alive and well in all our hearts…for MWD Heroes live forever!

  • JBMF TEAM JANUARY 14th & 15th


    The JBMF team had very productive meetings on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon presenting the national monument project and all its administrative and operational goals. We also had a photo-op for an interview with John Burnam (JBMF President) by the Northern Virginia Magazine . The feature article will appear in the May issue.

    Our meeting with the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program Managers at the Pentagon went very well. We gave a presentation about the monument, its design, and our objectives. We tweaked the design and planned a follow-on meeting in keeping with the intent of the congressional legislation. We got the go-ahead to create a miniature clay model of the pedestal figures (e.g., four dogs and hander). Fort Belvoir remains the location for the monument to be built and maintained.


    We set up the War Dog Booth at the Sahuaro State Kennel Club Dog Show, held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds on February 5th through 7th 2010.

    The booth consisted of posters depicting Sgt Stubby from World War I, Chips the canine hero of World War II, pictures of canines during the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as today's war on terrorism.

    In addition there are two special posters depicting Nemo, the sentry dog hero of Tan Son Nhut during the Vietnam War and Lex, whose handler Dustin Jerome Lee, was KIA in Iraq.

    Lex was subsequently adopted by the Lee family. Rachel Lee, Dustin's mother, is using Lex as a therapy dog at various state Veteran Hospitals and attends veteran related activities.

    In addition, we are raising funds for the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, to be constructed at Fort Belvoir, VA.

    Upcoming events that I intend to participate in are:

    The Fiesta Cluster at West World in Scottsdale, AZ March 5 - 8. Thousands of dog owners from around the country will be competing. It is a public event and well advertised.

    The Police K-9 trials April 17 and 18 at Scottsdale Stadium, our original site for our first War Dog Booth in 2007

  • JBMF TEAM APRIL 23rd & 24th


    The JBMF team had its first opportunity to meet with the artist and view the miniature clay sculpture of the monument's pedestal features (four dogs and handler).

    We attended a meeting with Congressman Walter B. Jones, sponsor of the congressional legislation for the national monument and members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill. They were pleased with our progress and assured their continued support on Capitol Hill.

    We also met with a representative from the Office of the Secretary of the Army to discuss the placement of the national monument at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where the National Museum of the U.S. Army is planned for construction. More meetings are planned to work out the administrative details.

    The miniature clay model was presented for review and evaluation by the military working dog decision makers at the Pentagon. They were very pleased with the design and recommended several improvements before the model can be locked down and cast in bronze.

  • JBMF TEAM MAY 4th & 5th

    Lackland Joint Services Installation, San Antonio Texas

    The JBMF team was invited to speak at the annual Joint Services Military Working Dog Conference in San Antonio, Texas (Lackland Air Force Base). The conferees represented the military's working dog program managers and administrators for the military working dog and handler courses; dog team distribution;, veterinary services; dog breeding and procurement; and logistics for the Department of Defense. They are the decision makers and excited to be a part of the approval process of the national monument.

    The JBMF team's visit also included presentations to several military working dog student and instructor groups, and a tour through the new high tech Veterinary hospital. We were fascinated to see and discuss the training and dog-healthcare that our military is deploying in Iraq and Afghanistan to save lives.


    My wonderful thanks for your participation and support in this year's entry. It was a fantastic turnout and the willingness of all you folks and your clubs to do this each year just gratifies and amazes me. That so many of you turned out early to help with the TV interviews was appreciated. I didn't get an exact count but know we were in the high 50's in the number of teams. Each veteran had a dog to walk with as well, which was great to see. Ten years ago this started out as just an idea I had....I went to the Veterans Day Parade in 2000 as an observer only. I had attended a reunion of Army Sentry Dog Handlers who served in Vietnam a few weeks earlier. I left that parade thinking that something had to be done to remember the dogs of Nam and what happened to them. In 2001 we fielded our first entry. Since then it has evolved into what we do today - recognize all the Military Working Dogs who have served this country and saved lives. You and your groups have been a tremendous asset in spreading the word. Because of your participation in this, I really believe Phoenix and the Valley is one of the best informed areas as to what these dogs accomplish. They are a special breed within each breed. This can't be done without your help. Each year is new for me, it never gets old. You folks keep it fresh.

    The Veterans who participated in this year's entry included Gordon Wildes, not only a Vietnam veteran, but a parade veteran as well - USAF: John Weaver, Vietnam, USAF who always brings an energy to the parade; Dennis Travis, Vietnam, USAF who was active in spreading the word in MI and recently moved here; Dale Burton, Vietnam, USAF, in his second parade; and Louis Robinson, USAF, Desert Storm veteran. Their dog who served with them in Vietnam and other theaters was with them today, at their side once again. Its something they appreciate so much and again you caused it to happen. Please pass on to your members and friends who participated in this event my thanks for making this entry such a success each year, and always better than it was the year before.

    The reception you gave Debbie Kandoll and the retired canines was so appreciated by her. She felt at home with all of us. After the parade, Debbie had an extensive and exclusive interview with Lin Sue Cooney of Channel 12. That exceeded my expectations as well. They spent over a half hour talking, and the videographer spent another 45 minutes with them. The interview probably won't air until December - they want to spend some time working on it. The cameraman told me "This isn't going to be a 30 second story to fill in some time. This will be a feature."

    This parade is one of the largest in the country. Your participation helped make it that way.

    Jim Frost