[Zim’s Note: I have wanted to do a post about the use of animals in war for a while now. Instead of glossing over their collective war efforts, I thought it would be best to make it into a series. Animals have been instrumental during the wars and have been credited with saving many lives. However, they rarely (until fairly recently) receive their due credit. Here are their stories.]
During the Vietnam War, more than 4,000 dogs served in various positions with the United States military forces. Though their scouting and sentry duties, it is believed that these dogs saved up to 10,000 American servicemen. The number of dogs killed in action has been tallied at 232, while 295 dog handlers were also killed during the war. By the end of the conflict, only about 200 dogs returned to the United States, the rest were either euthanized or given to the South Vietnamese who, reportedly, did not know how to handle them. These dogs were considered “a surplus of war.”
I came across some Marine Corps photographs of Sgt. Spano and his war dog Lobo. This series shows Sgt. Spano and Lobo completing a parachute jump in Da Nang, Vietnam in August 1968.
Online research came up with very little on both Sgt. Spano and Lobo. Sgt. Spano’s name (or at least his last name) does not appear on either the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall or on lists of killed dog handlers. There were more than one dog named “Lobo” serving in Vietnam and two baring the name were killed in action. Lobo (with ear tattoo of “58M4”) was killed February 15, 1969 and Lobo (with ear tattoo of “729M”) was killed June 25, 1970. However, I’ve ruled them out as the Lobo in these photographs since the two killed were listed as Army.
If you know of any other information on these two heroes, please let me know!