75th SFS MWD Handlers Honor War Dog Heroes
By Cynthia Griggs, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, 19 March 2021
Community members pet retired contract working dog Mazzie, who sits in front of the Vietnam Veterans War Dog Memorial, which was modeled after him, during the dedication ceremony 13 March 2021 in Layton, Utah. The monument honors U.S. military dogs that didn't return after serving in war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs)
LAYTON, Utah – Defenders and military working dogs from the 75th Security Forces Squadron at Hill Air Force Base gathered with the community on K-9 Veterans Day, March 13, to dedicate a Vietnam Veterans War Dog Memorial at Layton Commons Park.
The monument which honors U.S. military dogs that didn’t return after serving in war is located near park’s Vietnam War Memorial Wall, which honors the nearly 60,000 American men and women who died in the conflict.
According to the U.S. War Dogs Association, during the Vietnam War, 4,900 war dogs served, with only 204 returning home to the United States. Of the nearly 4,700 who remained in Vietnam, only 350 died in combat; the rest were just abandoned by the country they served as they were considered military equipment at that time.
The War Dog Memorial also has plaque stating if it weren’t for war dog heroes, another 10,000 names might have been added to the Vietnam War Memorial Wall.
Jim and Linda Crismer, members of the Northern Utah chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, raised funds for the War Dog memorial project. Crismers' adopted military dog, Mazzie, who worked as a MWD in Kuwait, was the model for Salt Lake City artist, Lena Toritch, who sculpted the memorial.
“I feel the K-9 Memorial is an instrumental reminder to the community and region of the value that is and has been placed to the work of Military Working Dogs and their handlers,” said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Wiggins, 75th SFS non-commissioned officer in charge of MWD section.
“For decades, we have built exceptional bonds with K-9s to execute difficult and unimaginable missions that have saved countless lives,” he said. “Today was an opportunity to take a moment with our community and share the trust and faith we all have in our K-9 partners.”
The dedication ceremony was attended by law enforcement and other working K-9 teams from the community and featured two Vietnam War K-9 handlers who spoke about their experiences with the war and their bonds with their K-9s. The ceremony also featured a blessing of the K-9s before the monument unveiling.
“To see so many of our fellow K-9 handlers from across the region also attend was amazing,” said Wiggins. “We work and train with some of these other handlers and this was the first time we were able to take a break from training to just listen to the stories of past and present handlers and truly recognize our four legged partners for their duty and sacrifice.”