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.
Leon Uris author of Battle Cry and Exodus A heart-rending story of courage and loyalty that should be celebrated.
Bash Dibra author of DogSpeakAlways Faithful is a testament to the extraordinary relationship between man and dog, and the extent of a dog's devotion to its owner. The heroism of these war dogs is a perfect example of that devotion, earned by a kind and loving master, and I would recommend the book to anyone who loves, and admires, dogs.
Stanley Coren author of The Intelligence of DogsAlways Faithful gives an engrossing picture of the heroic men and dogs involved in the battle to recapture the island of Guam during WW II. You feel as if you were there watching the dogs being trained and going into combat. After the war was over, you find yourself cheering for the men who later fought military bureaucracy and misunderstanding to get these valiant dogs back to the families who volunteered them for service. It's a fascinating story.
Carl T. C. Gutierrez Governor of Guam A great testament to all of the World War II heroes that fought a long, tedious battle here on Guam. The sacrifice that our servicemen and service dogs endured during World War II will always be remembered in the hearts of the people of Guam. Always Faithful is an excellent tribute to America's finest.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas author of The Hidden Life of Dogs I can scarcely remember ever being so taken with a book as I was with Always Faithful, not only because of the very stirring accounts of these superior dogs, but because of Captain Putney himself. The civilian population has never been particularly appreciative of war dogs, preferring to exterminate them rather than pay to bring them home. They were, after all, just dogs. It is highly fitting that Captain Putney should remember them here, and remind us of their service.
General Louis H. Wilson 26th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps and recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Guam Always Faithful is an interesting and accurate account of the World War II war dogs and the brave and unique ability of their handlers. I was a Company Commander on Guam and can attest personally to their value. I encourage all Marines and others who wish to learn of the value and ability of the war dogs to read and enjoy the book.
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