When you think of military working dogs, what breed comes to mind…a brave German shepherd, Belgium Malinois, or even a Labrador retriever? How about a Yorkshire terrier? Probably not, but one famous Yorkie served her country in World War II, and is credited with saving the lives of 250 US Soldiers.
The 4 pound, 7 inch tall tiny but mighty female dog named Smoky the Yorkie began her years of service after some US Soldiers, who were fixing their jeep on the side of a road in a New Guinea jungle, heard the cry of the tiny dog coming from a nearby abandoned foxhole and rescued her.
The soldiers who found her sold her to Corporal William A. Wynne from Cleveland, Ohio, for two Australian pounds because they needed quick cash for a poker game later that night. Corporal Wynne named her Smoky because she had grayish colored fur.
The Corporal and Smoky became much attached. She shared his tent and his C-rations. He began to train her and quickly she was dancing the jitterbug and singing, among other tricks. But she also learned how to serve and began going on missions with the soldiers, stowed in their backpacks or make-shift pouches.
During her career, Smokey earned 8 battle stars, participated in 12 combat missions, lived through a typhoon in Okinawa, survived 150 air raids in New Guinea, and parachuted 30 feet from a tree.
However, her biggest accomplishment was helping engineers build an airbase at the Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. Her tiny size made her indispensible in the building because she could navigate a 70 foot long culvert under the airfield. In minutes, she could complete a job that would take a team of men days to accomplish.
The tiny dog also saved the life of William when his 5th Air Force 26th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron was attacked during an air raid while headed to the Philippines by helping him navigate off of an exploding ship’s deck thus avoiding the bullets that injured many men.
When William and Smoky returned home from the war, the Cleveland Press did a feature on them, they traveled to Hollywood, and performed in 45 live shows without repeating any tricks.
Smoky also continued to entertain troops in her free time. She was a true “Yorkie Doodle Dandy” even though she was never considered a real war dog. She passed away unexpectedly on February 21, 1957 at the age of 14. She is buried by Wayne and his family. Her grave is marked with a bronze statue of her and a GI helmet.