Valor Friday

| March 18, 2022


This cute little ragamuffin was a godsend to the troops she served with during World War II. Unfortunately, we’re recovering from a bad bout of the stomach flu in our house, so I haven’t had the time to properly dedicate to writing an article for this Yorkie like she deserves. She’s received a new medal, the Animals in War & Peace Distinguished Service Medal, on Wednesday to honor her accomplishments. This is the non-combat award and now ranks behind the Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery, first awarded in 2019 (we talked about a few of the recipients in past articles). The medal mirrors the language of the various Distinguished Service Medals awarded to humans in the US military service. It is awarded to those animals who distinguished themselves by “exceptionally meritorious service to the U.S in a duty of great responsibility.”

Poetrooper sent in this article from American Military News on Smoky and her new medal;


War heroes come in all shapes and sizes – and species.

But when Clevelander Bill Wynne bought a Yorkshire Terrier — that weighed 4 pounds and stood just 7 inches high — for $6, he never expected his tiny pup would save lives during World War II.

Smoky became the first dog to be honored with the Animals in War & Peace Distinguished Service Medal in a ceremony Wednesday in Washington. She was recognized for her “exceptionally meritorious service to our nation in a duty of great responsibility.” The award was accepted by Anna Wynne, Wynne’s granddaughter, on her 14th birthday.

The medal is the highest award American animals can receive, thanks to House Resolution 935 — which was passed in February — to “recognize the roles and contributions of United States service animals and their valiant human handlers for bravery and acknowledging their valor and meritorious achievements.”

Why Smoky?

“Smoky was so special and so unique,” said Robin Hutton, president of Angels Without Wings and Animals in War & Peace, and the creator of the medals. “It was out of character for such a little Yorkie to play such a big role under combat conditions. We just never know what an animal will do to perform an act of service.

“They have no choice — no voice — but serve just as valiantly as the men and women they served alongside. This little pup played a wonderfully large role for our men and women in the South Pacific theater.”

Smoky served with Wynne’s 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. Found in an abandoned foxhole in New Guinea, Smoky spent two years backpacking through the jungle with Wynne. She slept in his tent and shared his rations. Smoky participated in 12 air-sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions. She survived 150 air raids on New Guinea and made it through a typhoon on Okinawa. Wynne credited her with saving his life, and the lives of others by warning the soldiers of incoming fire.

But the little dog gained hero status when she helped engineers build an airbase at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, a crucial airfield for Allied war planes. Early in the campaign, Signal Corps engineers needed to run a communications wire through a 70-foot-long pipe that was only eight inches in diameter. The soil had sifted through the corrugated sections at the pipe joints, filling as much as half of the pipe, and giving Smoky only four inches of headway in some places.

Smoky’s work saved approximately 250 ground crewmen from having to move around 40 U.S. fighters and reconnaissance planes, while a construction detail dug up the taxiway. The work would have placed the men and the planes in danger from enemy bombings. What would have been a dangerous three-day digging task to place the wire was instead completed in minutes.

“This little moment in history could have easily been forgotten once all the men who lived it were gone, but Smoky’s story keeps it alive,” said Hutton.

“We don’t think of the animal sacrifice in war, but what they have done is truly stunning,” she explained. “The soldiers they serve with become their ‘pack,’ so they do these fierce feats because they want to please and out of love and devotion they have for their handler. They prove themselves time and time again.”

First therapy dog

In their downtime, Wynne taught Smoky several hundred tricks, which the pair used to entertain soldiers in their unit, and on visits to the wounded and sick soldiers in hospitals from Australia to Korea during the war. According to Animal Planet research, Smoky is the first therapy dog on record.

Smoky’s ability to cheer patients in military hospitals was discovered when Wynne came down with Dengue Fever. His tent-mate smuggled the dog into the field hospital in the hopes that seeing his beloved pet would give Wynne more determination to fight off the disease. The little dog’s presence not only helped Wynne, but other soldiers on his ward, who began to show signs of improvement after she accompanied nurses on rounds.

Wynne, who died in April, 2021, often told the story of a soldier who was suffering so badly from PTSD (then known as shell shock) who had not spoken or even reacted to others, in months. When a nurse placed Smoky in his lap, the soldier immediately smiled and began communicating.

Her visits were soon approved by Dr. Charles Mayo, then the commanding officer of the hospital. [Editor’s note: Colonel (Doctor) Charles Mayo (Medical Corps) was one of the founders of the famous Mayo Clinic, his brother, William James Mayo, the other founder also served as a Medical Corps colonel during the war. They were both in their fifties when they heeded the call to serve.]

After the war

Wynne had to smuggle the dog aboard a ship to bring Smoky back to Cleveland, where he found work as a photojournalist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and as a research photographer for NASA.

Hutton believes that is why Bill, and thousands of soldiers like him, fight to bring the animals they find during war home with them.

“They have been through so much together. They have been partners. They know what each other went through, and they are able to help heal one another,” she said.

Here at home, the two became a staple on WKYC’s Sunday morning children’s show “Castles in the Sky” in the 1940s and ‘50s, and Smoky entertained at VA hospitals, nursing homes, schools and fairs across the nation until her sudden death in 1957.

Wynne buried his beloved pet in an WWII ammo box beneath a tree in the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks – the same tree he, and his wife, Margie, carved their initials and a heart into when they became engaged before the war.

Her remains were transferred to the base of a monument to the Yorkie, and “All Dogs of War,” erected in 2005.

Smoky has been the subject of a book, authored by Wynne, “Yorkie Doodle Dandy,” and a short film, “Angel in a Foxhole.”

Category: Army, Historical, PTSD, Real Soldiers, Valor, We Remember

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Thanks again, Mason. Hope the family is recovering.



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I had to pose him after his morning nap.

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Damn, got awful dusty in here all of a sudden.


Same here at Firebase Magnolia, Fyrfighter. Lots of pine pollen, I guess. What’s your reason?

The more I learned about people, the more I loved my dogs.

BZ Smokey, RIP Little Girl. The epitome of a Daddy’s Darlin’ Dumplin’ Daughter Dog.

Thanks Mason. Get well.


Umm… exhaust system here at the station failed… yeah, that’s it..

And Smokey looks a lot like wifes little dog…

Get well to Mason and family

E Conboy

Sorry KoB, my eyes didn’t see so good after reading about the brave little pup. Don’t know how to remove it. Apologies, sir.


I absolutely adore dogs.

At the risk of being real sappy, I think God created pooches to give us humans a perfect example of God’s love.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

Our “children with fur”.

Old tanker

Ok who let the freaking onion cutting ninja in the room.

Prior Service

Nice. Thanks for the post. Better than my usual lunchtime reading!


A very good dog.


Good boy! Such a good boy!


My 13 yo Shih Tzu takes me for walks 4 times a day to keep me healthy. The rest of the day she is in her own office chair.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

BZ Smoky;
Speaking of dogs, My Uncle raised dogs for the military and one day one of the dogs was asleep on the lawn and run over by a lawnmower so the Military didn’t use the dog because now he was defurred from serving.


Doggone tough way to get a defurment…


The troopers in young Poe’s battalion in Vietnam adopted so many dogs they were everywhere in the rear area. Advised by the battalion surgeon that they presented a health hazard, the battalion commander resisted the argued pleas from the ranks that they were huge morale boosters and ordered them all confiscated and killed. Without question that was the most unpopular and most widely resisted order Poe experienced during his tour.

As you can expect, many, if not most of them, especially the smaller dogs like Poe’s squad’s little DiDi, mysteriously disappeared before they could be rounded up, only to quietly begin reappearing within a few days following the infamous day of confiscation and execution. After that, the colonel, apparently realizing the futility of his decree, pretended not to see them.


Thank you for the great story. Never underestimate even the smallest of Terriers!

I am thankful for every day with my best friend. He’s an Airedale, or maybe a giant Yorkie.

It’s so nice to read and smile.


Dog is my co pilot