Veterans mark anniversary of War Dog Memorial at Riverside County's March Air Reserve Base

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- One by one, names of those who died were read aloud, followed by the ringing of a bell. Veterans then laid down roses and saluted.

It wasn't just a tribute to other veterans who passed away last year, but to their fallen comrades with not two legs but four.

"Not many people knew we had dogs in Vietnam," said Tom Mitchell, president of the Vietnam Dog Handler's Association. "People didn't know."

The ceremony took place Sunday at the West Coast War Dog Memorial at March Field Air Museum. The memorial was first dedicated 20 years ago. This year, about three dozen names will be added to the list on the memorial.

"We had about 4,000 dogs, but only 200 dogs came home," said Mitchell. "All the other dogs were either put down or transferred to the Vietnamese."

Mitchell said the dogs that deployed in Vietnam served several roles alongside their human counterparts, including as sentries and scouts.

"They were out in front of the platoons, and would alert on the enemy that was close, or even trip mines, they could hear the wind through the wire."

Also on hand at the ceremony was California Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin.

"This memorial is an important part of our history," said Chin. "They were an important part of the experience that all these men went through many years ago."
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