CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan -- Rhythmic, booming taps occupy the air of the 5th Force Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division's main office hallway as a large creature makes its way to the Training and Operations Office.
Its body is covered with black, coarse hair on top with a sharp white blotch on its chest. He weighs 95 pounds and exudes confidence. This animal is known throughout the base as Private First Class "Big Duke Six," 5th Force Reconnaissance Battalion's pit bull mascot.
Duke, respectfully named after John Wayne, is four years old and has been with the unit since May 1999.
"We believe he was a Japanese fighting dog before we picked him up at the [kennel]," said Gunnery Sgt. James B. Smith, training chief and caretaker for Duke. "He was originally the platoon mascot for 1st platoon, Company A. He picks up his official orders as the battalion mascot this week."
The Duke's daily routine is almost equal to a reconnaissance Marine's schedule.
"He'll run physical training with us and go the whole three miles," said Smith. "He'll even sit out in front of the office and wait for another platoon to run by, [and] chase some units down the road."
With all of the exposure to different Marines each day, Duke tries to mimic humans.
"He'll sit in chairs, thinking he's a person," said Smith. "He even sleeps on a cot at night."
With Duke's new billet as battalion mascot, new things await him.
"We're building him a six-foot wide, seven-foot tall and eight-foot deep doghouse," said Smith. "We're even putting a love seat in it which he likes to sit on."
Duke may have his comical moments, but still stands as a pillar of pride for the battalion.
"He's a very loyal dog," said Smith. "If you mess with him, he'll align you."
Stubby was a stray brown and white ABPT puppy when Private John Conroy picked him up in 1917. He was destined to become the most decorated war dog in U.S. history. The lonely young private was at Yale University for training. When deployment orders came, Conroy smuggled the patchy pup aboard his troop ship bound for France. Stubby reached the trenches in February 1918 in the midst of a horrific battle. Although the dog was never trained to cope with such nightmarish conditions, he calmly endured a mounting barrage of shelling. Stubby's caretakers were amazed by his cool under fire, and absolutely stunned when he ventured out into no manís land to seek out and comfort wounded soldiers caught in the crossfire. News of the little dog's heroism and fidelity reached the French village of Domremy, and after the fighting subsided, the women of the town presented him with a hand-sewn chamois coat decorated with Allied flags and his name stitched in gold thread. Stubby carried messages under fire, stood sentry duty, helped paramedics find the wounded, and gave early warning of deadly gas attacks. When Stubby found and helped capture a German spy who was mapping a layout of the Allied trenches, he was awarded the honorary rank of Sergeant. Seriously wounded by shrapnel, he was sent to the Red Cross hospital for surgery just like any other soldier. Once recovered, the gutsy pit bull returned to his regiment and continued to serve until November 11, 1918, the day the war ended. Upon his return to the U.S., Stubby was greeted by a wildly cheering American public. Named a life member of the Red Cross and the American Legion, he was awarded many medals including one by General John J. Pershing. Called to the White House several times to meet Presidents Harding and Coolidge, he led more regimental parades than any other dog in history. Stubby spent his final years with John Conroy the beloved soldier who had rescued him. He died of old age in 1926.
The 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry claimed that their beloved Civil War mascot-a brown-and-white pit bull named Jack-understood bugle calls and obeyed only the men of his regiment. Severely wounded in battle, he recovered, only to be captured by the South. So loved and honored was Jack, he was exchanged at Belle Isle for a Confederate soldier.
Sallie, the little brindle mascot and comrade of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers, refused to leave the wounded of her regiment during the three-day stand at Gettysburg. Two years later, when Sallie was killed at Hatcher's Run, her "boys" risked their lives under fierce enemy fire to bury her where she fell. Today Sallie is immortalized in bronze at the foot of the 11th Regiment Monument at Gettysburg National Military Park.
The American pit bull terrier was chosen as America's World War I poster dog. Wrapped in the American flag and flanked by the dogs of England, Germany, France and Russia, the pit bull made America's statement to the world. "I'm neutral, but not afraid." It was a fiercely patriotic time and the American pit bull terrier symbolized loyalty, courage and American steadfastness. He was truly the dog of America.
Originally Posted by buzhunter
Here's that poster: