What breed comes to mind when you think about military working dogs…a bold German shepherd, a Belgian Malinois, or even a Labrador retriever? A Yorkshire terrier would be a good choice. Probably not, but a legendary Yorkie served her country during WWII and is credited with saving the lives of 250 American soldiers.
Smoky the Yorkie, a 4-pound, 7-inch tall tiny but formidable female dog, began her years of duty after some US Soldiers, who were repairing their jeep on the side of a road in the New Guinea jungle, heard the tiny dog’s scream emanating from a nearby abandoned foxhole and rescued her.
The troops who discovered her sold her for two Australian pounds to Corporal William A. Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio, because they needed money for a poker game later that night. Because of her grayish-colored fur, Corporal Wynne named her Smoky.
The Corporal and Smoky developed a strong bond. She shared his tent and C-rations with him. He began to instruct her, and she was soon jitterbug dancing and singing, among other things. But she also learnt to serve, and she began accompanying the soldiers on operations, tucked in their backpacks or makeshift pouches.
Smokey received eight battle stars, took part in 12 combat flights, survived a typhoon in Okinawa, endured 150 air strikes in New Guinea, and parachuted 30 feet from a tree during her service.
Her greatest achievement, however, was assisting engineers in the construction of an airbase on Luzon’s Lingayen Gulf. Because she could navigate a 70-foot-long tunnel beneath the airstrip, her little size made her indispensable in the building. She could finish a work that would take a team of guys days to complete in minutes.
When William’s 5th Air Force 26th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron was assaulted during an air strike while en route to the Philippines, the tiny dog saved his life by guiding him away from an exploding ship’s deck, avoiding bullets that maimed several men.
When William and Smoky returned from the war, the Cleveland Press published an article about them, and they went to Hollywood to perform in 45 live shows without repeating any of their stunts.
In her spare time, Smoky continued to entertain troops. Even though she was never deemed a legitimate war dog, she was a true “Yorkie Doodle Dandy.” At the age of 14, she died suddenly on February 21, 1957. Wayne and his family lay her to rest. A bronze statue of her and a GI helmet are erected on her tomb.
Please share the story of this small dog with a big heart of courage with your entire family and circle of friends.