The first memorial to Special Operations Forces (SOF) K9 soldiers killed in action was unveiled at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC, this past week. The museum is part of the U.S. Army Museum System and tells the story of Army airborne and special operations units from 1940 to the present.
Created by sculptor Lena Toritch, the memorial is a life-sized, bronze statue of a Belgian Malinois dressed in full combat gear. Surrounding the statue are paver stones listing the dogs that were killed in action. The plaque on the memorial reads: “The Bond Between a SOF handler and his K9 is eternal. Trusting each other is a nameless language. Here we honor the SOF K9s that have paid the ultimate price.”
“Like their human counterparts, special operations multi-purpose canines are specially selected, trained and equipped to serve in roles not expected of the traditional military working dog,” said Chuck Yerry, President of the SOF K9 Memorial Foundation at the dedication. “Truly daring and brave, these dogs often lead their soldier team-members in the most dire conditions to save lives and complete the mission.”
“The SOF K9 memorial foundation saw a need, and what a better place for this memorial than our community,” said Museum Foundation Executive Director Paul Galloway. “These K9 soldiers lost their lives in combat…they need to be honored.”
Eagle Scout candidate Harrison Burkart, a Boy Scout from Troop 745, was instrumental in raising funds, designing and installing the landscaping.
If you go:
- Airborne & Special Operations Museum, 100 Bragg Boulevard, Fayetteville; (910) 643-2778; www.asomf.org
- Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; 1-888-98-HEROES; www.VisitFayettevilleNC.com