As a more or less self-appointed spokesman here at American Thinker for the military Airborne community, I thought AT readers might get a kick out of seeing some images of the newest members of that fraternity of warriors who leap into battle from an airplane in flight. This link was sent to me by an old comrade-in-arms, another Vietnam vet paratrooper. As soon as I saw it, I knew this needed to be shared outside the military community.
There is something about warriors and dogs that seems to transcend all other relationships. In the midst of a combat zone, the presence of a tail-wagging, face-licking little four-legged buddy can have a stabilizing, normalizing effect on a soldier like nothing else. In Vietnam, my battalion acquired so many canine mascots that the colonel, acting at the behest of the medical authorities who were concerned the mutts might transmit more than just mange, put out a shoot on sight order for all dogs in the rear encampment area. As his radio operator, I was the one who had to transmit the order to subordinate units, immediately following which I ran to my hooch and hid my sweet little DiDi.
As you can imagine, all the pooches disappeared into hooches and the actual kill rate was so low the order faded into oblivion, much to the relief of the designated shooting teams who were rightfully concerned about shooting the much-loved mascot of a team of heavily-armed owners. Soon the pooches were back out in the open running freely, putting smiles on fatigued faces. I think the colonel, who was an old war horse from WWII, realized that while the dogs could in fact represent a health risk, more importantly, they contributed high value to the unit's morale. No more shoot to kill orders were issued during my tour.
So as I look at these images, I am reminded that nowhere is that old saw about a boy and his dog more relevant than in combat. And yes, even while waxing sentimental, I realize that these canines depicted here are highly trained, skilled and efficient like the men whose missions they support. But as you look through the photo essays, the pics of the troopers and the dogs relaxing post-mission back up everything I've said here. Look at the faces of both dogs and soldiers and you'll see what I'm trying to convey. On the other hand, the expressions of those dogs shown exiting aircraft has me wondering what the doggie language equivalent is for: