Tony - V-776 - The Terror of Saipan.
As the patrol approached the edge of a clearing about 50 yards from the small group of shell-torn buildings, V-776 froze. Hackles ruffed, teeth bared in a soundless snarl, he said as plainly as if with words: “Enemy ahead!”
Instantly, the patrol melted into the landscape, weapons trained on the buildings. With sharp, battle wary eyes they scanned roofs, windows, rubbish piles. Nothing moved.
Minutes crawled by. Nothing happened.
The patrol leader eyed V-776 suspiciously. “Looks like your flea hound is getting jumpy, Jack. Probably smells an animal – a rat or something.”
Crouched beside V-776, Sgt. Jack Lamper grinned tightly. “Yeah, a big one with two legs.”
“Well, what are we going to do?” asked the patrol leader edgily. “We can’t wait here all day. If he’s wrong, we’re just wasting time. If he’s right, anyone who steps in the open will be a dead duck.”
Sgt. Lamper whispered to V-776, and a tawny streak shot from the edge of the clearing straight toward the doorway of one of the buildings.
The patrol tensed as V-776 disappeared inside. Suddenly blood curdling snarls and growls ripped the stillness, then a high-pitched human scream of terror. Led by Sgt. Lamper, the patrol rushed across the clearing with tommy guns and carbines at the ready.
Inside the building they relaxed, grinning. High on a rafter near a gun slit was a Jap soldier, his murderous plans for the patrol completely forgotten. He was too busy jerking his legs away from the 10-foot lunges of a snarling, saber-toothed, terror below. Tony, of the 44th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, had just captured his 13th Jap prisoner! . . . ~from PIC Magazine, November 1948, by Forrest Kleinman
Pic Magazine - November 1948 - Tony's article.
Meet famed Fort Douglas resident Tony, The Terror of Saipan! The year was 1942. The United States had just entered into a state of war with Japan as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Near the heart of this tragedy in Honolulu, Hawaii, mere months later on August 15, a purebred German shepherd of Rin Tin Tin (the legendary WWI veteran and later famed movie star) lineage was born. Just a pup of 6 months, he was soon on his way to the states alongside a sailor to Everett, Washington, and his destiny.
As the war effort increased and consumed resources, everything was valued and used differently and when there was an increased need for useful animals and duty called, pet owners answered.
Milford County Chronicle - July 05, 1945 Call to action.
On June 29, 1943 at the age of 10 months, Tony was enlisted in the K-9 Corps by his owner Mrs. W. H. Givler. He reported for duty to Fort Robinson, Nebraska where he underwent indoctrination and war training. During these sessions, War Dogs, in this case scout dogs specifically were force trained to be aggressive and ferocious, to distrust and hate all human beings but their handlers.
In War, Tony became a vicious scout dog with the 44th Infantry, captured 13 Japanese, was taught to hate everyone but his handler.
This was necessary as scout dogs (unlike others serving as sled dog, messenger, mine detector, and sentry) were intended largely for combat patrol duty where sight recognition would be frequently impossible. In the “Agitation” courses at War Dog training centers such as the one Tony attended, scout dog candidates were subjected to humanely regulated, but severe, abuse from all strangers with whom they came in contact. Animals who did not react aggressively to this treatment were weeded out. Some scout dogs became so aggressive it was necessary to keep them leashed at all times – even in combat. Without this check, they would have charged through gunfire to attack, regardless of command.
While training at Fort Robinson, Tony was introduced to Jack Lamper as a potential handler. That day, unbeknownst to all, a life long bond had begun. They trained together for 4 months.
When the time for deployment came in 1945, Jack and Tony went overseas to the Pacific together to serve on Saipan, primarily mopping up pockets of Japanese soldiers hidden away in the terrain. Here they lived in foxholes on the humid islands, their bond growing stronger.
Sgt. Leslie Jack Lamper, Tony's (V-776) handler and best friend.
As the war was coming to an end, many owners had already requested the return of their pets, and thousands of dog lovers had offered homes to any who remained unclaimed. The challenge was, “Fido” was no longer just their pet, but a war veteran, trained aggressor and sometimes killer. Would he be able to overcome his war neuroses and PTSD to live a normal post war life as a pet again? To these veterans, everyone but the soldiers assigned to handle them was a potential enemy. They didn’t know the war was over.
The Army worked on the problem, experimented. Canine experts were called in, and a new course was introduced in the War Dog Training Center at Fort Robinson. It was the exact opposite of the “Activation” course that had originally indoctrinated the dogs with hyper-aggressiveness. Instead of abuse, the students received kindness. Strangers fed them, petted and pampered them. Within 60 days, the most savage warrior would succumb to the treatment. The vast majority of War Dogs were successfully rehabilitated with minor incident.
In Peace, Tony has been tamed so completely that the children shown
above - and two Japanese—are among his best friends.
Where our story began, was nearly its end. The number 13 was not only an unlucky number for V-776’s last Japanese prisoner, but for him as well. As he took his final lunge at his target, the war-ravaged structure gave way and he was severely injured. For a War Dog on the front lines with limited resources and tasked medical support, this often meant one thing, a merciful death. Sgt. Lamper had a debt to pay and a friend to save. More than once Tony had saved his life, and now it was his turn. With desperation, Jack pleaded for an exception to the rule! As not to compromise a single human patient, he would care for Tony every moment when not required for duty. The spirit under all that brass as if some sort of genie, granted Lamper’s wish! Far from the conflict in the Pacific, Tony’s owner in Washington, Mrs. Givler heard of Sgt. Lamper’s efforts and devotion to her pet and in correspondence with his Commanding Officer, a deal was stuck to transfer ownership in Tony’s service record to Sgt. Lamper.
V-776 (Tony) was discharged on 27 February, 1946. He went back to Fort Robinson, where it all began, to start his rehabilitation process, as Sgt. Lamper went home to Salt Lake City. Tony’s process was the exception, for after only a few weeks, he learned to tolerate strangers, but he wasn’t happy about it. His coat grew dull. He lost weight, and started a rapid deterioration as he suffered severe separation anxiety from the one he had grown so close to. Within a few weeks, Jack had received a letter from the Commanding Officer of the School. “Your dog is pining away for you,” it read. “We’re sending him home before he starves to death.”
Finally, and officially home, Tony began a very different life; raising mink on his owners ranch, tending to babies such as Jack’s newborn nephew Joseph, and playing with neighborhood children, 2 of which were of Japanese decent. His best friends with whom he shared his affections next to Jack were a big yellow tomcat named Aggie and two pet minks from the farm, which he practically raised himself.
Tony with Lamper’s new born nephew, Joseph Baker.
Tony shares time with owner, Jack Lamper, and cat friend, Aggie.
Newspaper Article about Tony and Jack returned to civilian life.
In 1947, Tony joined Salt Lake American Legion post No. 2 as a registered member and held office as post mascot, complete with a fitted blue-and-gold uniform. Tony would find a nice comfortable, yet commanding spot to stretch out during meetings, letting the men have their way unless applauding or singing, and yawning only when the discussion turned to war. Far from those days of rehabilitation hunger, Tony would always have a good dinner by the time he had left the club.
Tony in his Salt Lake American Legion post No. 2 official fitted blue and gold mascot uniform.
Newspaper article when Tony joined the American Legion.
The Salt Lake Tribune - Sunday, October 24, 1948 - Newspaper article on Tony
attending his Legion meetings.
Although Tony lived a very multi experienced life, and served his country to the fullest, his life was unexpectedly and regrettably cut short when someone fed him food laced with a foreign substance. He passed away on December 09, 1949 and lived to be 7 years, 3 months and 26 days old.
On Tuesday, December 13, 1949, he was interred at the Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in an elaborately manufactured casket, receiving full military honors; including Taps for Tony.
Salt Lake Telegram - December 13, 1949 - Tony's Obituary.
Salt Lake Telegram - December 13, 1949 - Tony's Obituatry.
It is important to remember and honor the diversity of our Armed Forces and the animals who served our country in the war efforts both home and abroad and the obstacles they too had to overcome post war as they were finding their way back into society in a changed world.
Tony and some of our more interesting citizens who are now resting in the old Fort Douglas Cemetery will reappear this Saturday, October 28, 2017 from 1pm to 4pm. Listen to real stories of their former lives and how they found their way to such a captivating place. History will be told by actors in costume and will be suitable for all ages. Bring the family. Drop by anytime.
Facebook Event - Click Here