President Donald Trump recognized the service of military working dogs on Friday, commemorating the 78th anniversary of the day the U.S. officially established the K-9 Corps.
Trump announced the day of recognition in a White House statement:
On National K-9 Veterans Day, I join our Nation in celebrating and honoring the important job performed each day by America’s dedicated working dogs who support our military.
Established in 1942, the K-9 Corps is a critical part of our Armed Forces. Since its founding, more than 30,000 dogs have served in America’s military, with approximately 2,500 active Military Working Dogs (MWDs) currently helping to defend our freedom. These heroic dogs use their unique abilities to perform a variety of critical functions that help reduce the dangers posed to our men and women in uniform. From carrying messages and laying telegraph wire to detecting explosives and acting as guard and patrol dogs, MWDs have a storied history of assisting the world’s greatest fighting force in carrying out their missions.
Just recently our Nation witnessed the power and might of these remarkable K-9s. Conan, a military working dog from 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, played a key role in eliminating Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—the world’s number one terrorist leader. Conan chased the terrorist into a dead-end tunnel where, trapped, he met his rightful demise. Many of our bravest and most adept military personnel were involved in the raid that brought this evil ISIS leader to justice, and Conan bravely worked by their side. Thanks to Conan, no American personnel were lost in the operation, further demonstrating the vital role K-9s play in safeguarding our national security.
As a Nation, we will continue to support our working dogs who loyally protect the American people and our way of life.
According to American Humane, the K-9 Corps was established on March 13, 1942. K-9 Veterans Day has subsequently been celebrated annually on March 13.
The Trump White House previously hosted Conan — the military working dog involved in the Baghdadi raid — in November. An effort was also launched to give Conan the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the raid.
Official U.S. military policy does not allow for dogs to be awarded the Purple Heart. That policy came into place after Chips, a World War II-era military working dog, received a Purple Heart award in 1944 for injuries while confronting and forcing soldiers in a German machine-gun nest to surrender. Chips also received a Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross in the effort.
William Thomas, who was serving as national commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart at the time, said it came across as an insult to soldiers who had been injured in combat.
The U.S. Army posted a video commemorating K-9 Veterans Day on Friday.
Today, we celebrate our four-legged companions — there with us through thick and thin. #NationalK9VeteransDay is a day set aside to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the American military, working and therapy dogs.#ServewithHonor #K9 pic.twitter.com/eb7ECEr85D
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 13, 2020
The U.S. Air Force also shared support for the 2020 K-9 Veterans Day.
Happy K9 Veterans Day! 🐶❤️
Military working dogs are a special part of our force. K9s officially became part of the military service on March 13, 1942. MWDs work daily to save and protect Americans and our homeland.https://t.co/AmpCNyvfoB pic.twitter.com/KGvWiWOuuu
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) March 13, 2020