In 1970, 173rd Airborne dog handler Johnny Mayo lost his first service dog, Tiger, when he tripped a Vietnamese booby trap. His second dog, Kelly, remained by his side until his tour was over.
Kelly was put down instead of getting to go home with his friend.
Mayo took part in Lest We Forget's Vietnam reenactment on Armed Forces Day at the Benton Harbor airport -- 42 years after being wounded and flown out of battle. WSBT photographer Jade Birch was there too.
We have to warn you this special report from Jade might make even the hardest among you tear up. It's about the "expendable veterans" -- those dogs who saved countless lives during the Vietnam War but were denied a chance to happily live out their own lives:
Kelly was just one of over 4,000 service dogs trained for service in all branches of the United States Military. During the Vietnam era and through mid 2000, these animals were considered surplus equipment by the government and subsequently put down after completion of service.
Legislation by Congress in 2000 created the Military Adoption Act, which gives service dogs a chance at life beyond service. Just over 200 service dogs survived the war.
Donate to the South Carolina War Dog memorial: SC WarDogMemorial, PO Box 7277, Columbia SC 29202.