Reflections of World War II
Written by Gene Long.
From the book compiled for Gene Long by Phyllis Dye Slater.
WORLD WAR II, 1944
Written Nov 15, 1984
It was back in the South Pacific. It was when Bill Barker, my scout pardner and myself were sent up to the front line.The first night we dug in which means digging our foxholes to protect us from the shelling. That night in September the Japs were shelling us with mortar fire. Our mortar men returned the fire all night. I was so scared I just shook in fright and prayed. The next morning the Colonel called on the scout dogs to try and find where they were located at. We were sent out on a combat patrol. Bill and I were both sent out in front. We came to a peninsula in the Nau mu Nau ma Trile. The Lieutenant decided to split us up. He told Bill there is a machine gun nest about 1/2 mile up the mountain. Take a man with you and see if the dog can locate their position and he said "Long" you take the main patrol about 20 men and start around the peninsula. Barker told the Lieutenant his dog was sick. He knew when I got ambushed on a similar patrol. Bill said he was scared the dog wouldn't make it up the mountain. I told him I took the other mountain before and it was his turn. The Lieutenant heard what Bill said and he changed the plans. This left me to go up the mountain to try and locate the machine gun nest. The Sergeant said if we get to the top or have any contact to Walky talk the position. The closer we came to the top we found out they had moved out. We radioed to the patrol from below. The Sergeant told us to look and see if there was any movement at all before the advance across the river and around the peninsula. We moved down closer within 750 feet. It started to rain , which made our vision bad. We laid there for two hours. The Sergeant radioed and told me to make sure everything is clear. My two hours were up. I gave the O.K. to move across the river. I seen Bill out front. Garsia, second scout behind him. They had just made it around the bend. I saw the dog stop and give a sign of something near. As soon as the men started across the river all Hell broke loose. The Japs had ambushed the patrol. Bill and Garcia were both killed. The dog was wounded and ran yippping down the river bend. The men swam down stream for their lives. I saw myself dying and being torn to bits with machine gun fire. By Bill switching patrols he saved my life.
Later my pardner and I went around the mountain and back to our location from where we started. The Japs had us pinned down. Before dark we got reinforcements. We dug in. We opened fire at anything in their direction. The river started to flood and we were forced to move back. I found "Tuffy", Bill's dog down stream. He was shot through the nose. I doctored him and took him back to camp. The rest of the dog men got word that one of the dog men was killed. As we came off of patrol my men were waiting and ran toward me crying. Hugging me. I never will forget it as long as I live.
This is what our flag means to us Veterans. Brotherly love to the day we die.
It was worth it to see our children and family in peace. I later ended up in a mental hospital thinking it was my decision that caused their death. I tried to forget it but it never leaves me When I see the flag and know how we all prayed for our lives. It brings back hardships but the love is always there. I was only nineteen. Amen.
OUR DOGS, 1944
As we left Frisco aboard the U.S.S. John Isacson the dogs had special cages. We had a litter box in which they relieved themselves. The dogs were in top shape before they left. We were told what to expect when we reached our destination.
Aboard ship the dogs would be taken out of the cages and exercised on the rear of the ship. The attack dogs had to aggitated every day to keep them sharp. Every thing we did aboard ship concerning dogs were top secret. Every man took care of his own dog. No other troops were allowed near our kennel area. The dogs were given special shots. Their grooming was very important. When we hit our first destination Gualdacanal the dogs were so thrilled to see a tree again after 32 days aboard ship.
We were the 25th War Dog Platoon consisting of 27 men and 30 dogs. We were first attached to the 298 Phillipino and Hawian Infantry. Our first job was to get the stray Japs out of the jungle. Each man had to be near his dog at all time. When we were at the front lines we had to dig a fox hole big enough for the dog and me. That was a job as my dog was a German shepard and 110 lbs. We watered and fed them in the hole. We would strap them to our arm. They were taught not to bark. They were constantly on the alert. When our ration would get low the dogs would only eat every other day. But me, being a dog lover I shared my little bit of food with him. When going on patrol I would have to carry his food and my own food on my back. When going into the jungles, if the dogs would cut their feet we would have to tend to them or the fungis would infect their wounds. Swelling would occur and then the dog could hardly walk. Then you were in trouble. Myself and one of our Boulou natives who were in our patrol would help us carry the dog. Their ears were a problem. The flies would eat on the top of their ears if you didn't put insect repellent on them. We had to empreganate our own clothes to keep insects from biteing us.
After two months in Guadacanal we were sent to Bougainville. Also in the Solomon Islands. We were attached to the Americal and 37th Infantry Davision. This Island consisted of many volcanos causing earth quakes. The first one I was in scared me to death. The earthquakes were frequent here. Our first casualty was two of our best messager dogs. During a quake a tree fell on our kennel area injuring several dogs and killing two. I have pictures of some of the dogs that were killed. When going to the Nau Mau Nau Mau Trail where the front lines were we would go part way by army trucks. The dogs were taught how to ride with other dogs and troops. No one was allowed to pet them, only the master.
The dogs were taught to attack when they were on the special harness. We would put them on when they reached the front lines. We mostly worked with the dogs on night patrol and guarding bunkers. The dogs then had the advantage because of their great senses. The dogs were constantly on the alert. Each movement or smell was the enemy. The dogs lost a great amount of weight also. The handler's food was scarce. One important thing was to keep the dog's nose wet. We would take the cap off our canteen and let them take a few swallows. As time went by on the front lines the dogs became more vicious due to the heat, bugs, lack of food and water. Yet the dog still has a great amount of patience. To relieve themselves was hard. We had to schedule them in some way, because if we didn't the dogs would have a hard time working. The dogs were great under fire. We would strap them to our arms to hold them down close to our body. When we came back from the lines we would give them a great reward, horse meat, plenty of freedom, and a swim in the ocean. The salt water was good for the cuts and bruises. The dog, once he has his work harness off is very controled. We would let several run together and played combat. We protected them with our lives as they did with us. Back in Bivouac area the dogs would be put through their paces. They had to be able to crawl next to you and be able to stay on command. Be silent, attack on command or when someone tried to come near you. The messager dogs did a fine job. They were taught to scent from a drag rag which contained linseed oil and a special collar was made for him to hold a message. They were taken on patrol if we were ambushed the dog was given the word: " report". He would follow the linseed scent to his destination. I seen them with their feet bleeding and their tail bleeding from the sharp vines and rocks. Every dog was rewarded with a piece of meat and given praise. Praise is another important thing in dog training. Messinger dogs in basic training were taught on a wire to run back and forth on. Trainers were on each end. In between their run from one end to another they were agitated and tried to be coaxed from the command from the trainer. The command is always " no" for correction. When they finally conquored the course on the wire they were taken off. Now they had to run from one trainer to the other where there was two men to a dog. Some of them were taught to carry pigeon for the same purpose carry messages. In training it takes a lot of patience. After running them in the mountains of San Carlos, Calif. they were graded for time on the run and enduance. Now they were ready for combat.
THE UNCROWNED HERO
After my dog Bim and I recovered from getting our legs and feet hurt we were sent back out on guard to some of the Infantry outposts. I had to always dig a hole for Bim and I. The hardest part was to get Bim to do his business outside the fox hole.I would try to get to one side of the hole, then he would try to release himself. Also for myself there was no toilet to relieve yourself.
It was so sad the rats would try to come in to your fox hole if there was any signs of food. The flies were always on the dogs eyes. Mosquitos were eating on you all the time. Then I got malaria. I layed in my hole burning up with fever and crying. Bim would always cuddle up to me and protect me. One of the medics took me to a shelter, where they took care of the wounded. I was then taken back on a stretcher to a truck and then to the hospital area. Bim was taken back to our kennel area. I was sick for days with disentary, losing weight and I was down to 108 pounds. Another trainer took Bim over.
My scout days were over. Later the 25th was sent to the Philippines. I would do guard duty without the dog. Then I came down with the fever again. I was being sent back to New Guinea to a hospital. As I was getting ready to leave they brought my dog Bim to see me leave. I got down on my knees, kissing him on the face and crying. What an ending with Bim. As I got on the truck he kept barking and trying to go with me. I'll never forget his look "like don't leave me."
Later on in years I was told that he made it back to the states and then died.
If there is a dog heaven, he'll be there.
Written Oct 25, 1995
It was in Bougainville, Solomon Islands. Bim, my scout dog and I were called out to scout for the 37th Infantry Division. We were supposed to meet the troops at a certain destination before going to the front lines. We were left out by the river. The Sergeant said to wait, they will be there. An hour had gone by and no one was there. So we started to go north up the hill. Still no one. We were lost in enemy territory. We must have walked 5 miles. Suddenly Bim alerted and I dropped to the ground, laying there thinking it was the Japs. I heard a call "Lighter". Halt. It was lucky I knew the password. It was our troops. I shouted loud "lighter fluid" or I would have been shot. They wondered what happened to me so they sent out a patrol. "Thank God". We were taken up the trail to where we would be scouting from the next day, when we were to go on patrol. We were sent up to the mountain trail near the Torakina River to scout for the 37th Infantry Division.
We were told there was a machine gun nest. We walked about 4 miles up the mountain side and no contact. My 2nd scout who was Australian said we'll lay here for awhile till the rest of the patrol catches up. All of a sudden Bim kept getting alerts up ahead but no noise. I told Brown, my 2nd scout, that was the Aussie's name. I'll take a look and I went out about 100 feet ahead and Bim gave a great alert. There up ahead I saw a tall Jap looking over the hill, down near me. I layed as still as I could but he saw the dog alerting. If it wasn't for Bim we would have all been killed. I motioned back, there was someone out there. All of a sudden they started shooting down where I was. Bim and I layed low. The bullets were hitting above us. The scout screamed run over towards him. He kept me covered as Bim and I ran, zig zaging like I learned in football at home. Brown kept firing back and all the other patrols started firing as I ran for my life. The native who was carrying our supplies dropped a big box and as I was running I hit the box and almost broke my legs. I thought I was hit and I couldn't move. Bim layed beside me and I was crying and thanking Bim for not leaving me there. Morter fire from our patrol knocked out the machine gun nest. As the troops went up the hill there was Jap bodies laying dead all over the top of the hill. None of our patrol was killed. Only a few wounded. They took me down the hill on one of the native's back, I couldn't walk. My shins were bleeding and I looked at Bim and he had cut both of his feet and was bleeding too. I took part of my shirt off and cleaned his feet with water from my canteen. I put some iodine on his feet. He was strong and kept walking beside me with a limp. Later when we got to our camping area the medics took care of my legs. I couldn't walk for a couple of days. Bim also got his feet fixed. All the men on our patrol said Bim was our hero. They all got to pet him for saving them from getting ambushed. Now I can rest. I'm 70 years old and always wanted to write about our hero dogs.