Monday, December 28, 2009

Fort MacArthur K-9 Command, Part 2

Private Accepts War Dog Assignment with Fort MacArthur K-9 Command

In early 1942, one of the sergeants at Fort MacArthur asked for volunteers to work with the fort's new Canine Command and warned that it's "not going to be easy work and we don't want sissies."

Initially there were no takers for the difficult job that consisted of helping to train dogs for sentry duty at the sprawling base.

After the sergeant reframed his pitch stressing that the soldier who did this job would be doing a great service, Private Raymond J. Diekman stepped forward and said "I'll take the job" -- even though he had acquired a fear of dogs while driving on a truck route in Illinois before the war. As recounted in a local Illinois newspaper at the time, Diekman thought this would help him get rid of his dislike of dogs.

Shortly thereafter Diekman's Fort MacArthur service consisted of wearing padded suits, acting as a bad guy in the K-9 training program. His job was to let the dogs attack him.

Not only did Diekman overcome his fear of dogs, but he also had his fifteen minutes of fame. His photograph was seen in newspapers, magazines, and even thousands of theaters in the Warner Brothers 10-minute movie "Sniffer Soldiers" -- in which he demonstrated the training program for Army dogs at Fort MacArthur as "sentries, messengers, pack dogs, airplane spotters and other duties."

*above image credit: Cy La Tour, likely taken at Fort MacArthur in 1942 or early 1943, unknown if this shows Diekman  

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fort MacArthur K-9 Command Part 1

In 2003, I helped Los Angeles Times columnist Cecilia Rasmussen research the history of the Fort MacArthur K-9 Command for her article entitled "The Dogs of War Laid Their Lives on the Line for U.S."

Fort MacArthur was center of the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles during the World War II era.

Since then, I've researched and found further information on other aspects of the history of war dog training at Fort MacArthur that I'll be posting soon.

Until then, click on the link below to read Cecilia's informative article about the Fort MacArthur K-9 Command: