ABA Banking Journal - June 2010 - (Page 52)
First person | John dean
Training the “dogs of war”
World War II veteran trained scout dogs and handlers for the Pacific theatre, and came back to train more for Korean War
Farm banker John Dean’s military career went to the dogs. “I’ve always told my kids I was the luckiest guy in the world in World War II,” says Dean, 85, chairman, Glenwood (Iowa) State Bank. “I was an infantry officer—not a very safe job—and I was never sent anyplace I was even shot at.” At 17, in 1943, Dean, a farm boy from western Iowa, enlisted. He emerged from Army Officer Candidate School as a second lieutenant. He tried to transfer to the mule pack artillery, but the Army had begun phasing that out. Then he heard about “Dogs for Defense” and the K-9 Corps. Dean went to Fort Robinson, Neb.’s, War Dog Training Center to train with and assume command First-lieutenant John Dean (second from left) helps an “agitator” (far left) train a of an infantry scout dog platoon war dog for Korean service. Dean began working with war dogs in World War II. bound for the South Pacific. Each soldier was provided four herds and soldiers of the 25th and dogs, in hopes that at least one would “train out.” For scout dogs, specialized 26th Infantry Scout Dog Platoons. training began with an “agitator,” a GI whose role was to get the dogs’ attenDean enjoyed working with the tion, in woods or fields. dogs, despite being bitten on occa“The agitator would run and encourage the dog to chase him,” says Dean. sion. He had a posted policy that This began the training in seeking unseen troops by their smell, the chief if a dog, in training, could bite him duty of scout dog platoons. Once they detected presence of humans, scout and draw blood, the soldier-handler dogs would “alert,” similar to pointing, says Dean. would win a three-day pass. “It might not actually be an enemy,” Dean explains. “Dogs can’t tell the Some did, including the handler difference in smell between an enemy soldier and a friendly soldier.” of a dog who missed Dean’s padWhile not fighting dogs per se, scout dogs were trained to attack and hold ding, bit, and wouldn’t let go. when needed. “I was moving my arm real slow,” “You trained them to go for one of the arms,” says Dean. recalls Dean, “because, if you don’t, Before Dean and his men were posted overseas, the war ended. In lieu of they’ll let go and bite again. I asked Pacific service, Dean was sent to Bremerhaven, Germany. There he collected this corporal to tell the dog ‘Out!’— and supervised care of dogs GIs had adopted, and arranged to ship them the command to let go.” home to the discharged GIs. Dean chuckles. “And the corporal Discharged himself in 1946, Dean was recalled for Korea in 1950. This time says, ‘Do I get my pass?’ ” n the now-first lieutenant was sent to Fort Riley, Kan., to be commanding offi—Steve Cocheo (more on ababj.com) cer of its Army War Dog Center. He was in charge of training German Shep52 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | June 2010
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