Dogs at Reveille

During the war, William and the other men in his JASCO unit stayed on Saipan in between reconnaissance missions on other islands. The nineteen men in JASCO were housed in a small tent city isolated from the rest of the troops on Saipan. On the other side of the island, Saipan became headquarters for the Second Marine Division in all of its entirety, the B-29 bomber groups, an army division with maybe 20,000 men, and one of the biggest ammunition depots in the Pacific. Tanks, guns, shells, bombs, and anything else you might use in combat were stored there.

William described military canines who also lived on the island:

Believe it or not, the large ammo depot on Saipan did not have to be guarded very well. At least not by soldiers. Doberman pinchers guarded the ammo, and believe me, we didn’t want to get too close to them.

The dogs were treated almost like a platoon of humans. There was a tent for each dog, and I believe there were 36 of them, which would, in fact, make them a platoon. When reveille blared each morning, the dobermans came out of their tents to sit at attention while their trainers raised the flag. That part was hysterical.

Training was not amusing. I was able to watch several times. Boy, those were vicious dogs. The trainers wore helmets and wrapped up their bodies in rags and protective padding. In one exercise, a soldier drove a jeep down into a valley while dogs were stationed on a nearby hillside. The dobermans were sent down after the jeep and were taught to judge how to run so as to head off the jeep. Dogs leapt in one doorway and dragged the driver out the other doorway. Listening to the snarling and watching, I didn’t envy the driver…and especially not anyone in his position who wasn’t wearing protective gear. Those dogs could tear you to pieces.