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Some war stories are lucky enough to make it into the papers; a select set are memorialized in books—and fewer still in Hollywood blockbusters.

Many other incredible stories, though, go unheard by the public, preserved only by a photo, or in this case, a letter.   

Sixty-eight years ago, the American Kennel Club received the following note in the mail. The fact that it still today evokes an emotional response proves that though the pair pictured here may be from the past, the unique bond of war dogs and their brave handlers is something that today remains the same. 

Dear Editor:

War is a grim business in which sentiment plays little part. But one of the most touching things in this global conflict is the complete mutual devotion, confidence, and understanding that exist between America’s war dogs and their handlers.

Such was the relationship of Marine PFC Robert E. Lansley of Syracuse, and Andy, an affectionate, alert Doberman Pinscher, formerly owned by Theodore A. Wiedemann of Norristown, Pa. Lansley and Andy went through months of bitter fighting on Bougainville, where the Devil Dog’s keen nose repeatedly saved Marines from certain and sudden death by discovering camouflaged Japanese machine-gun nests. He was cited for his heroism.

Then, one tragic night, Lansley wrote to his mother this letter—a Marine’s simple, yet beautiful tribute to his dog:

   Dear Mom: My heart is wide open. My Andy is gone. The darn mutt got out and as he couldn’t hear because of deafness brought on by the shelling, he was run over by a truck.

   I got the worst order the Marine Corps ever imposed on me. I had to destroy my Andy.

   To think, Mom dear, he saved my life and I had to take his. No matter how many dogs they give me, I’ll never have the faith in them that I had in Andy. It seems that he was my other self.

Bob and his Andy are now together again. The Marine was later killed in action fighting on the island highway to Tokyo. —Clayton G. Going, July 1945

See more photos of war dogs here.

See pictures of dogs and their soldiers here. 

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This article was originally published in AKC Family Dog magazine. Subscribe today ($9.95 for 6 issues, including digital edition) to get expert tips on training, behavior, health, nutrition, and grooming, and read incredible stories of dogs and their people.