War Dog Memorial visits SJ kennels

  • Published
  • By Airman Shawna L. Keyes
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The War Dog Memorial statue visited the 4th Security Forces Squadron military working dog kennels during its tour of military installations in North Carolina, Oct. 27.

The statue, which is a tribute to past, present and future MWDs, will be dedicated Nov. 11 at the Veterans Memorial Park in Columbia, South Carolina.

Staff Sgt. John Makripodis, 4th SFS kennel master, heard about the statue traveling around North Carolina and received a call from one of the statue's escorts, Dennis Lewis, about its arrival to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

"I got a call from Dennis saying, 'hey, I got a monument with a Vietnam handler and a dog, and I'm here in Goldsboro and I'm going to bring it to the base tomorrow,' and I said 'I'll see you at the gate and write you a pass,'" Makripodis said. "I notified leadership and said we got to get this thing known and that it's here.

The statue was modeled after a Vietnam War handler and his dog and honors the more than 4,000 dogs that gave their lives in action or were left behind.

"To me, that statue resembles a tribute to all the lost dogs that were left there [in Vietnam] and even the ones that returned," Makripodis said. "I can probably speak on behalf of every handler in this kennel that it's a glimpse into the outlook of the career field of military working dog handlers and the dogs, because the amount of work the dogs do is for so little, it's beyond me."

Makripodis added that on a single tour overseas, a dog team on average saves anywhere from 60 to 120 personnel, just from roadway sweeps, finding bombs and discouraging the terrorist from bombing installations and bases.     

"Knowing that one dog saved those lives in a six-month span can never be replicated," Makripodis said. "No machine can do such a thing, no human can do it, just a dog, and I wouldn't ever think of any other career field that's better than this."

The 4th SFS leadership and handlers alike came out to admire the statue during its 24-hour stay at the kennels and learn about its back story.

Johnny Mayo, whose likeness is used on the statue, along with his former scout dog, Tiger, both served with the Army's 39th Scout Platoon during the Vietnam War.

"Being K9, there are a lot of historical moments you get with your dog, so when you have a moment like this, when a team of people make a statue like this, it's very emotional," said Staff Sgt. Kristina Dennison, 4th SFS MWD handler. "All handlers are thinking in the back of their minds 'Wow, this is so awesome,' and to be able to experience it with your dog is even cooler. To have this memorial really hits home for us and it needs to be remembered."