Naval Special Warfare K9 Memorial
Combat Assault Dogs have a long and varied history. War dogs are as ancient as battle itself. There is evidence of dogs in combat as early as mid-7th century BC, utilized by many different civilizations. Combat Assault Dogs were an important instrument in combat during the Vietnam War; approximately 5,000 U.S. war dogs were used, saving an estimated 10,000 human lives during that war alone. It wasn’t until after 9/11, however, that the dog program was reinstated among Navy SEALs.
Rick Kaiser, Chief Operating Officer of the National Navy SEAL Museum, and Ken Corona, Museum Assistant: Executive Director, know the significance of the relationship between dog and handler. Working together in the SEAL Teams, they saw the need for canine support among their operators and together are largely responsible for the rebirth of the Combat Assault Dog program, one of the most successful programs in the military today.
The K9 Memorial honors the Combat Assault Dogs who have sacrificed their lives in the line of service to country. The Museum also acknowledges the Service Dogs beyond the boundaries of the battlefield those providing support for our servicemen and women when they return home from combat. You can learn more about our K9 Project here.
The Navy SEAL Museum Naval Special Warfare K9 Memorial was dedicated on November 7, 2020 in a service preceding the 35th Annual Muster and Music Festival. Master Sculptor Lena Toritch is the extraordinarily gifted artist who was commissioned for this work. Combining classical masters training, years of experience, inspired creativity, spiritual insight, and a compassionate heart, Lena sculpts treasured fine art of the highest quality with great authenticity.
The Navy SEAL Museum is so honored to have one of her pieces on our property, in recognition of the service and sacrifice of War Dogs beginning with their role in WWII to the present-day Global War on Terror.
“It is my great honor to be here today for the unveiling of this very special monument.
I have the utmost respect for our military, both humans and K9s, who serve and protect our country. For many months I worked on this statue. I have poured my heart and soul into it, and when I finished sculpting, I proudly signed my name.
I want to thank all of those who have supported and guided me through the creative process as our canine took shape: Dave Kohler, Grant Mann, Rick Kaiser, Ken Corona, Phil Ryan, Elaine Ryan, Lisa Fulton, and the rest of the Museum Board and staff who have enthusiastically embraced this project.
I’d like to thank my company YFAS and my foundry. And thank you to our brave elite canines for their service.” – Lena Toritch
With gratitude to Connery Concrete for their generous support of this project.
U.S. Navy SEAL Combat Assault Dog
Trust in me, my friend, for I am your steadfast partner. I will protect you until my last breath. In the heat of combat, you can rely on me. I will always remain at your side. As a team, we will conquer all obstacles and seek out those who wish to do us harm. We were feared on our nation’s battlefields: WWII, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
I will unselfishly give my life for you and the Team. Each day at your side is my reward. My days are measured by the coming and going of your footsteps. You are the voice of reassurance when I am ill, the voice of authority when I look for direction. I serve as your right arm, a ready sword at your side. My life is one dedicated to service to you, the Team, and our nation.
You and I share a bond unlike any other. I heel at your side, anxiously awaiting your commands, never passing judgment. I will remain ever vigilant, ever loyal. When our time together is done and you move on, remember me with kind thoughts and tales, for a time when we were unbeatable.
If we should meet again on another battlefield, I will gladly take up the fight alongside you.
I am a U.S. Navy SEAL Combat Assault Dog!