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Cover image for Always faithful : a memoir of the Marine dogs of WWII
Always faithful : a memoir of the Marine dogs of WWII
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, ©2001.
Physical Description:
xi, 224 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina -- Training -- Camp Pendleton, California -- Dog men -- Last days at Camp Pendleton -- Life aboard ship -- Guadalcanal -- Landing -- Worst day -- Banzai -- Mopping up -- Going home.
The veterinarian and commanding officer of the WWII 3rd War Dog Platoon pays tribute to the four-legged soldiers who served in Guam as messengers and scouts and details his efforts to see them safely decommisioned and returned home.
Conference Subject:
Geographic Term:



Call Number
940.5481 Putney 2001

On Order



Twenty-three-year-old Bill Putney enlisted in the Marines in 1943 in search of military glory. Instead, Putney, a licensed veterinarian, was relegated to the Dog Corps.Putney became the Commanding Officer of the 3rd War Dog Platoon, and later the chief veterinarian and C.O. of the War Dog Training School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. At Lejeune Putney helped train America's dogs for war in the Pacific. He later led them into combat in the invasion of Guam in 1944, the first liberation of American soil in World War II.Always Faithful is the story of the dogs that fought in Guam and across the islands of the Pacific, a celebration of the four-legged soldiers that Putney both commanded and followed. It is a tale of immense courage, but also of incredible sacrifice.On Guam, as on islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the Japanese were infamously tenacious, refusing to surrender as long as there was a hole left to crawl into. Rooting out the enemy was an awful, painstaking job. To this task, Putney's dogs were well suited. Used for scouting, attack, carrying messages, detecting mines, and also as guards, the war dogs were so well trained that they could locate nonmetallic mines that had been buried for months deep underground; their hearing was so precise they could detect enemy trip wires by listening to them "sing" in the breeze.Their record in action was perfect. More than 550 patrols on the island of Guam were led by dogs; not one patrol was ambushed. But for this success, the dogs, always out in front, paid a terrible price. Although Putney worked feverishly as veterinarian and C.O. to keep the dogs alive, many were lost.After the war, Putney returned home only to discover that the dogs he had served with were being put to sleep. These dogs were ex-household pets, recruited from civilians with the promise that they would someday be returned. Outraged, Putney fought for the dogs' right to go home. He won, and headed the overwhelmingly successful program to "detrain" the dogs so they could return to their families. Alas, quickly learned, the lesson was quickly forgotten. The dogs of Korea and Vietnam did not come home. Then, in the final days of his administration, President Clinton signed into law a bill that allows military handlers to bring home the dogs with which they work. Once again, Putney was at the front of the charge.For anyone who has ever read Old Yeller, or the books of Jack London, here is a real-life story, never before told, that beats any fiction. At once wistful tribute and stirring adventure, Always Faithful describes what may be the greatest man-dog effort of all time. It will both astound and move you.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Retired veterinarian Putney is also a decorated World War II veteran whose primary service was helping organize the Marine War Dog Corps, which trained nearly a thousand dogs, mostly Doberman pinschers, as scouts, messengers, and alarm givers. Many of the dogs saw combat, especially on Guam, where then captain Putney won a Purple Heart and Silver Star fighting the Japanese, with and without dogs. More than 500 canine survivors were successfully demilitarized and returned to civilian life, and more than half of those became companions of the marines they had accompanied in battle--results that Putney counts as one of his finest achievements. An exceptionally clear writer, Putney is compassionate for his fellow marines of both species, except when some of them proved more dangerous to the dog platoons than the Japanese were. A valuable addition to the historiography of military animals, World War II, and the marines. --Roland Green

Library Journal Review

A retired Marine Corps captain and veterinarian, Putney writes a moving and heartrending account of his days as commander of the 3rd Marine War Dog Platoon, in which some 72 dogs and their handlers were his responsibility. The dogs and handlers trained in scouting, mine detection, and other patrol duties and went into combat together. Here we read about Peppy, Big Boy, and Lady and a host of other courageous dogs who lived and died during some of the worst fighting of the war. Putney takes the reader through basic training and the battles of Guadalcanal and the retaking of the island of Guam in 1944. He continues the story of how those dogs that survived the war were retrained and returned to civilian life. For veterans and dog owners, the stories of heroism and death may be dreadful, but they are a reminder of the sacrifices needed to obtain victory in World War II. A unique animal and war story, this memoir is a tribute to all who cherish the loyalty and bonds that dogs give their owners. Recommended for all public libraries. David Alperstein, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Chapter 2 Training
Chapter 3 Camp Pendleton, California
Chapter 4 The Dog Men
Chapter 5 The Last Days at Camp Pendleton
Chapter 6 Life Aboard Ship
Chapter 7 Guadalcanal
Chapter 8 Landing
Chapter 9 The Worst Day
Chapter 10 Banzai
Chapter 11 Mopping Up
Chapter 12 Going Home