Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Training the "Dogs of War": World War II Veteran Trained Scout Dogs and Handlers for the Pacific Theatre, and Came Back to Train More for Korean War

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Training the "Dogs of War": World War II Veteran Trained Scout Dogs and Handlers for the Pacific Theatre, and Came Back to Train More for Korean War

Article excerpt

Farm banker John Dean's military career went to the dogs.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"I've always told my kids I was the luckiest guy in the world in World War II," says Dean, 85, chairman, Glenwood (Iowa) State Bank. "I was an infantry officer--not a very safe job--and I was never sent anyplace I was even shot at."

At 17, in 1943, Dean, a farm boy from western Iowa, enlisted. He emerged from Army Officer Candidate School as a second lieutenant. He tried to transfer to the mule pack artillery, but the Army had begun phasing that out. Then he heard about "Dogs for Defense" and the K-9 Corps.

Dean went to Fort Robinson, Neb.'s, War Dog Training Center to train with and assume command of an infantry scout dog platoon bound for the South Pacific.

Each soldier was provided four dogs, in hopes that at least one would "train out." For scout dogs, specialized training began with an "agitator," a GI whose role was to get the dogs' attention, in woods or fields.

"The agitator would run and encourage the dog to chase him," says Dean. This began the training in seeking unseen troops by their smell, the chief duty of scout dog platoons. Once they detected presence of humans, scout dogs would "alert," similar to pointing, says Dean.

"It might not actually be an enemy," Dean explains. "Dogs can't tell the difference in smell between an enemy soldier and a friendly soldier. …

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