Hometown Heroes: WWII service animals

Hometown Hero: WWII Service Animals

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Animals played a key role in many World War II battles and strategies.

We all know the stories of bravery from soldiers during WWII, but there were also animals who gained hero status in that war. Toni Kiser with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans has written a new book on service animals in the war, including 10 thousand dogs.

“This is the first time the U.S. military had used dogs in warfare. We had a sled dog program before the war, but we had not used them before so they were newly trained for that for World War 2 in the military,” says Kiser.

Dogs were heavily used by the military, but not for explosives—that would come later.

Kiser says, “We trained mine dogs during World War II, but we didn’t train them to smell for explosives. We did not know that that was something they could do. So, the mine dog program was considered a failure because we taught them to look for disturbances on the ground. It was in WWII that we learned the real capabilities how the dogs could help us.”

And then there was the use of experimental Bat Bombs; as in live bats.

“This guy, Dr. Adams, had an idea to strap small incendiary bombs to bats and set them out over Japan. They would roost in all the eaves of little houses and basically create a time-delayed bomb that no one would be prepared for. Interestingly enough, it did work. It just happened to burn down a U.S. airfield instead of anything in Japan," says Kiser.

The method of using bat bombs never came to fruition. Kiser says the Coast Guard used more horses that any other military branch, for its shore patrols here in the United States.

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