Throughout history dogs have accompanied man at work, at play and at war. From the trenches of France to the Global War on Terror, US Military working dogs have saved countless lives under the most extreme combat conditions.
"They can detect people, bombs, cancer in humans. It's not up to us to decide what they can do, it's up to us to decide what they can't."
- Chris "Dutch" Moyer, US Special Operations Dog Handler
Viewers of this documentary series will come away with a better understanding of the role dogs have played during wartime. We hear from the handlers that walked side-by-side with their K9 comrades, enduring the frozen climates of Korea, the foxholes of Vietnam to the caves of Afghanistan. Each with a tale of heroism, companionship, tragedy and loss, while also celebrating the sacrifice and heroism of each animal.
"They put a bounty on our heads. Not only were we walking point, but we were being targeted as well."
- John Burnham, Vietnam Dog Handler
Hear remarkable stories from dog handlers such as John C. Burnam, a US Army dog handler that served in Vietnam. His dog, "Chipper" working in the role of scout dog navigating the dangers of jungle warfare. Each episode will take the viewer into a separate theater of war, recounting the stories with US Veterans who lived to tell the tale.
"That four-legged beast is the number one combat multiplier we have on the battlefield."
- Rick Hogg, US Special Forces (Ret.)
The men and women who serve as combat dog handlers in the military have one of the toughest jobs in the world. After being assigned their "equipment," they must then train it to run into harm's way without hesitation. Whether or not the dog makes it back is not at issue when human lives are at stake.
THE GREAT WAR
Although the United States military did not have a War Dog program in place during WWI, there were plenty of military mascot dogs in the trenches with the American troops. The most famous was a little dog named Stubby who became the first American War Dog Hero. Another famous dog was Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd found by a US soldier on the front lines that later went on to appear in motion pictures. We speak with historians at the National WWI Museum in Kansas City, MO, as well as Ed Kacey, the curator of the West Haven Veteran’s Museum and historian on the story of Sergeant Stubby.
WORLD WAR 2
Shortly after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S Military enlisted the help of the American Kennel Association and the Dogs for Defense organization to start a campaign asking dog owners across America to donate their pet dogs to the Army’s Quartermaster Corps. For the first time in U.S. military history thousands of dogs were recruited and trained for war as sentries, scouts, mine detection, and messengers. They were shipped overseas to support the ground troops in the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. A donated dog named Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart for his heroic actions in Europe. You will see and hear Toni M. Kiser of the National WWII Museum tell more war dog stories. Toni is also a published author of “Loyal Forces: The American Animals of World War II.” You’ll hear from Robert F. Jones who joined the US Coast Guard in 1942 and served training dogs for our troops.
THE KOREAN WAR
When the Korean War came, things changed. These dogs had once been pets and show dogs, sitting at their master’s hearth. When they had the title of soldier thrust upon them however, they were expected to become hardened killers, trained for sentry duty and scouting. We will discover how these men and dogs adapted to each other and a seemingly impossible situation during the Korean War. The U.S. military also classified the war dogs as equipment. Grant Hatch, Harlan Hoffbeck, Charlie Ott and other Korean War Dog Handlers share their incredible stories about their dogs. They describe the bonding relationship and lifesaving events they had with their dogs. They talk about how difficult and sad it was for them to be forced to leave their canine heroes behind after the war ended. J. Rachel Reed shares her fascinating story about researching and writing her published book, “K-9 Korea: The Untold Story of America’s War Dogs in the Korean War.”
U.S. Military Working Dogs were once again called into action to help save American lives in the steamy jungles of South Vietnam. The dogs were deployed as sentries, scouts, mine & booby-trap detectors, and tracking hidden enemy jungle locations. Collectively, their heroics saved countless thousands of American lives. Vietnam Veterans; John C. Burnam, U.S. Army scout dog handler and Ron Aiello, USMC scout dog handler tell their heart-wrenching dramatic stories surviving combat with a dog in the enemy infested dark jungles. They were so successful; the enemy placed a price tag on their heads. You will also hear from Mike Monahan about his dog Chico, John Senac about his dog Diablo, John Coffey and his dog Mac, and Johnny Mayo and his dogs Tiger and Kelly. An eye-opening story will clue you into what happened to the thousands of surviving war dogs when the Vietnam War ended.
GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR
Immediately after the horrendous loss of life on September 11, 2001, American troops entered the Global War on Terror. Military Working Dog Teams were trained and dispatched to work and fight in extremely arid climate conditions and tortuous rugged terrain. Trent McDonald, a former U.S. Army Ranger explains his combat experience with military working dogs, Benno and Layka. A visit to Joint Base Lackland will introduce you to the soldiers training our military working dogs. You will get a tour of Lackland’s Holland Military Working Dog Hospital, the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in the world. You’ll see the 341st Military Working Dog Training School and their War Dog Breeding Program facility. You’ll also see the TSA Working Dog Training Program and what goes into training their dogs. You will get a visual tour of the five thousand square foot granite and bronze statues of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, which was legislated by the U.S. Congress and signed into public law by the President of the United States. We take you to Fort Bragg, home of the US Army’s Special Operations Forces and Airborne, and watch the 550th Working Dog Detachment training their working dogs. You will hear from Rachel Lisenbee, a Gold Star Mother who lost her son, Dustin, a U.S. Marine Dog Handler killed in action in the Iraq War. His military working dog, Lex was severely wounded in action and adopted by Rachel. You will love this story. US Marine Corps Military Working Dog program manager Bill Childress shares his 20+ years of experience overseeing the Marine Corps working dog program. You hear from Jason Somers, USAF Security Forces MWD Handler, Trainer and Kennel Master.
SPECIAL OPERATIONS TODAY
The use of dogs in combat has continued to escalate exponentially over the past 20-years as the war on terror continues. You will hear from Rick Hogg, “Dutch” Chris Moyer, Shannon Kreiger and other members of the US Army’s special operations community discuss their combat experiences with their highly trained combat assault dogs and how the Combat Assault Dog program came into existence.
They will detail the bravery their dogs demonstrated under extreme combat conditions and the lives they had saved. You will view the Special Operations Forces K9 Memorial in Fayetteville, NC. You will learn the impact war dogs have had on the American public. The Gold Star Families of fallen Dog Handlers, and so much more. Watching the heartfelt memorial ceremonies and burials of heroic military working dogs will tug at your heart. You will enjoy a special segment about what can be done today for America’s military working dog heroes.
To date, we have conducted a total of 39 interviews across 5 states. We are very fortunate to have received the support of retired dog handlers and historians as well as the US Army, Air Force, Marine Corp, and even TSA in order to tell this story.
There is still more work to do. We have more locations to travel to in order to film footage we feel is critical for this documentary series. If we can achieve our goal, we will film an additional 15 or more interviews as well as support footage at additional memorial sites. Once the remaining interviews are filmed, we can begin the post-production process of editing these interviews into the episodes we envision.
This documentary series is being made independently from any major studio or streaming network. While that may provide us the freedom to interview who we want and present their stories as we feel they should, it also means our resources are limited. We are counting on the community of dog lovers and supporters of our military to help us raise the funds needed to:
Complete the filming of the interviews we feel are important to the overall series.
Go into post-production with the funds to cover editing, color grading, voice-over recording, music composer, etc.
Funds for advertising and promotion of the documentary series
Once the episodes are completed and trailers made, we will place the documentary series with a distributor to secure multiple streaming platforms to air the series.
Please help us secure the remaining funds we need to complete this series:
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
If you can’t contribute to our campaign, we completely understand! But that doesn’t mean you can’t help us. Please help us get the word out about our campaign and get people talking about the war dogs and their story. Use the Indiegogo share tools and help us reach as many people as we can!
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High Proof Media is a video production company based in Columbia, South Carolina. We specialize in documentaries as well as high-end commercial productions.
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