by Airman Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
11/2/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The
War Dog Memorial statue visited the 4th Security Forces Squadron
military working dog kennels during its tour of military installations
in North Carolina, Oct. 27.
The statue, which is a tribute to past, present and future MWDs, will be
dedicated Nov. 11 at the Veterans Memorial Park in Columbia, South
Staff Sgt. John Makripodis, 4th SFS kennel master, heard about the
statue traveling around North Carolina and received a call from one of
the statue's escorts, Dennis Lewis, about its arrival to Seymour Johnson
Air Force Base, North Carolina.
"I got a call from Dennis saying, 'hey, I got a monument with a Vietnam
handler and a dog, and I'm here in Goldsboro and I'm going to bring it
to the base tomorrow,' and I said 'I'll see you at the gate and write
you a pass,'" Makripodis said. "I notified leadership and said we got to
get this thing known and that it's here.
The statue was modeled after a Vietnam War handler and his dog and
honors the more than 4,000 dogs that gave their lives in action or were
"To me, that statue resembles a tribute to all the lost dogs that were
left there [in Vietnam] and even the ones that returned," Makripodis
said. "I can probably speak on behalf of every handler in this kennel
that it's a glimpse into the outlook of the career field of military
working dog handlers and the dogs, because the amount of work the dogs
do is for so little, it's beyond me."
Makripodis added that on a single tour overseas, a dog team on average
saves anywhere from 60 to 120 personnel, just from roadway sweeps,
finding bombs and discouraging the terrorist from bombing installations
"Knowing that one dog saved those lives in a six-month span can never be
replicated," Makripodis said. "No machine can do such a thing, no human
can do it, just a dog, and I wouldn't ever think of any other career
field that's better than this."
The 4th SFS leadership and handlers alike came out to admire the statue
during its 24-hour stay at the kennels and learn about its back story.
Johnny Mayo, whose likeness is used on the statue, along with his former
scout dog, Tiger, both served with the Army's 39th Scout Platoon during
the Vietnam War.
"Being K9, there are a lot of historical moments you get with your dog,
so when you have a moment like this, when a team of people make a statue
like this, it's very emotional," said Staff Sgt. Kristina Dennison, 4th
SFS MWD handler. "All handlers are thinking in the back of their minds
'Wow, this is so awesome,' and to be able to experience it with your dog
is even cooler. To have this memorial really hits home for us and it
needs to be remembered."