Nemo Was One of The Few Vietnam War Dogs to Return Home

Posted by Christy Caplan
German Shepherd Dog Laying On Grass

Nemo is one of the most famous dogs in history. His story is remarkable and should be shared.

According to Dogs in History, only about 200 of the more than 4,000 dogs who served in Vietnam made it out.

"Those that did not die were euthanized or left behind when US troops withdrew from the war. Nemo, who became famous for saving his handler's life, was one of the fortunate dogs to return home."

Vietnam War 'K9'

Dogtime tells us that, on December 4, 1966, Nemo and Airman 2nd Class Bob Thorneburg were on patrol at a cemetery near the company's airbase in Vietnam:

"The two came under enemy fire: and the German Shepherd took a round to his eye, and Throneburg was shot in the shoulder after killing two Viet Cong guerillas. Undaunted, Nemo still attacked the enemy, which gave Throneburg the precious minutes he needed to call in reinforcements. After Throneburg fell unconscious, Nemo crawled on top of the soldier's body to protect him from harm. The dog didn't let anyone touch his fallen handler; it took a veterinarian to remove Nemo (Nemo and Throneburg later recovered from their wounds)."

Did Nemo retire from active service?

Nemo received a permanent retirement kennel and was blinded in his right eye.

Honorably, he died in December 1972 at 11 years old

Four other war hero dogs

There are many famous war dogs that should be written about and these four military dogs have their own stories that should be shared. Dogtime highlights these four:

  • A Yorkshire Terrier who saw action in the Pacific during World War II, Smoky was initially found in February 1944, abandoned in a foxhole in the jungles of New Guinea. The dog was included in a dozen combat missions and survived more than 150 air raids. Like famous World War I veteran Stubby, Smoky used her sharp sense of hearing to warn of incoming artillery shells.
  • Probably the most famous war dog, this American Pit Bull Terrier was the only dog to be given the rank of sergeant. Stubby was found as a stray on the Yale campus in 1917, and smuggled to France during World War I by his adoptive owner, Cpl. John Robert Conroy.
  • Kaiser was a German Shepherd who served in Vietnam under his handler Marine Lance Cpl. Alfredo Salazar. Kaiser and Salazar did more than 30 combat patrols and participated in 12 major operations together.
  • Chips was a Collie-German Shepherd-Siberian Husky mix who was the most decorated dog in World War II. The pooch saw action in Germany, France, North Africa, and Sicily. Among the animal's heroic exploits are his assault on an Italian machine-gun nest and helping take 10 enemy Italian soldiers captive.

These war dog heroes and all military working dogs deserve our respect! SO many base veterinarians save these military dogs (some have serious head wounds, skin grafts) so they can come home. Nemo ended up being blind in his right eye!

Some of these dogs and dog teams are members of the air force, security police forces, and have dog handlers that would do anything for them. Many have received a purple heart.

From birth to eight weeks, future military working dogs bred at the 341st Training Squadron are reared at the Military Working Dog Center in San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, where the Lackland Air Force Base is located.

Are you familiar with these war heroes? Please leave a comment below. 

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Nemo Was One of The Few Vietnam War Dogs to Return Home