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Archive for Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Local veteran reflects on when he brought dog home from war zone

As interest rises in adopting canines who’ve fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, one vet proves it’s not a new issue

Lincoln Johnson, Lawrence, right, a World War II veteran, brought a dog back from Germany by hiding it in his duffel bag. Johnson visits with his friend Corky Reed on Monday at the McDonald's restaurant, 1309 W. 6th, where a group of friends meet daily. The dog was a mixed breed dog named Waldmann, later shortened to Wally.

Lincoln Johnson, Lawrence, right, a World War II veteran, brought a dog back from Germany by hiding it in his duffel bag. Johnson visits with his friend Corky Reed on Monday at the McDonald's restaurant, 1309 W. 6th, where a group of friends meet daily. The dog was a mixed breed dog named Waldmann, later shortened to Wally.

January 6, 2009

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A photograph of Lincoln Johnson, Lawrence, from his time serving during World War II. Lawrence brought a dog back from Germany by hiding it in his duffel bag.

A photograph of Lincoln Johnson, Lawrence, from his time serving during World War II. Lawrence brought a dog back from Germany by hiding it in his duffel bag.

This dog, a mixed breed named Waldmann, was brought back into the United States after World War II when his owner, Lincoln Johnson, of Lawrence, hid him in a duffel bag.

This dog, a mixed breed named Waldmann, was brought back into the United States after World War II when his owner, Lincoln Johnson, of Lawrence, hid him in a duffel bag.

Dogs get a lot of attention when they are in a war zone.

Last fall the story of an American soldier’s attempt to bring home a stray dog she took in while serving in Iraq received considerable publicity. The military doesn’t normally allow that, but this time it relented because of the news coverage and the involvement of an international animal organization.

Lincoln Johnson, a 93-year-old Lawrence resident, can identify with that soldier. At the end of World War II while serving with the Army in occupied Germany, he adopted a dog from a farmer.

When time came for Johnson to return stateside he hid the 9-month-old retriever mix among his clothes inside a duffle bag just before boarding a ship in Belgium.

A lot of soldiers had taken in pets without the Army saying anything, Johnson said, but he didn’t think he would be allowed to openly take the dog on the ship. The female dog was called Wally, which was short for Waldmann, the name the farmer had given it.

Johnson and Wally got caught as they tried to get past the boarding checkpoint.

“She didn’t make any noise, but I guess she moved,” Johnson said with a chuckle, as he told the story recently while sipping coffee at a local restaurant.

Johnson had to let the dog out and was told to stand to the side and wait. Pretty soon a major arrived.

“I thought, ‘this is the end of this trip home,’ ” Johnson said.

Much to Johnson’s surprise, however, the major told him to take the dog to a holding area in the bottom of the ship.

“I think he must have liked dogs, too,” Johnson said.

Wally had company while chained up in the ship. There were a few other dogs there as well, Johnson said. The dog was allowed plenty of food and Johnson cleaned up after it.

Johnson, who spent four years in the Army in a field artillery unit and serving as an airplane mechanic, was discharged and returned to his hometown of Lawrence. Wally went on to live about 10 years, Johnson said.

The dog also stayed for awhile with Johnson’s elderly mother in Topeka. “He was good company for her,” he said.

Johnson went on to have other dogs but Wally is still his favorite.

“She was more intelligent than the rest of them,” Johnson said. “She picked up on things pretty quickly.”

Comments

Strontius 5 years, 11 months ago

What a nice story. I think we need more of these.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

when times are hard, a dog will be your helper and your buddy. I'm so glad he got to take the dog home with him. dogs seem to have an extra sense for their owners. gnomedog often surprises me by pushing into my side just at a time when I'm thinking of him. no word spoken.

ridinthefence 5 years, 11 months ago

Great story and who did it hurt to let him bring her home? Didnt even have to become newsworthy, just a great memory and longtime friend for someone that served our country.

lilyanne 5 years, 11 months ago

Dear Mr. Belt. I just read about a story about these dogs and there is a charity orginaztion that helps bring these animals home from war. It would be great if you can update the story and add this website to it. I donated and am sure others would like to too. Here is the website.... http://www.baghdadpups.com/

Eric Neuteboom 5 years, 11 months ago

What a great story! I remember my grandpa doing the same thing when he was returning from WWII.And thanks for your service, gentlemen.

Sigmund 5 years, 11 months ago

Thanks to Mr. Johnson for serving and being a first class example of the greatest generation. And thanks to Mike Belt for finding and telling us his story.

denak 5 years, 11 months ago

When I was in Desert Storm, I worked down the hall from the NBC dogs. There was one dog that I will always remember. Her name was Elsie and she was an amazing dog.I really can't describe what she meant to me.She would always come and visit me. She knew my voice and if I was working, she would come in and visit me. She always wore her stylish little red handkerchief. If she saw someone going to the water fountain, she would run ahead and stand up on her hind legs and push the button for them.One time, there was a scud that landed very close to where we were and she had to go out and see if there was any gas in the air. I was more worried about her coming back then the humans. Luckily, there was no gas.I don't remember the names of many of the people I served with, but I do remember her.Years later, I read a story that claimed that many of the dogs used in Desert Storm were left in Saudi Arabia later.I cried when I read that story. I don't know how true that story was but Elsie deserved better than that. I hope she returned to the states and was adopted by a family who loved her and took care of her.Dena

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