Soon, Navy SEAL and special operations enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a new monument dedicated to the history and actions of the country’s elite K-9s.
The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum will be erecting a monument to honor the Special Operations Military Working Dogs (SOMWD) that have fought and sacrificed alongside Navy SEALs.
“Military Working Dogs have been utilized in combat for decades,” said retired Master Chief Rick Kaiser, the Navy SEAL Museum Executive Director, in a press release.
“Their indispensable role and importance in SEAL Teams cannot be emphasized enough. We wanted to dedicate a memorial to these teammates all their own to acknowledge their service and sacrifice alongside our Frogmen who have done the same for [the] country.”
Special operations K-9s have become increasingly popular during the Global War on Terror (GWOT). From sniffing out explosives to scouting to attacking a target, K-9s are now an integral part of most special operations units. The SEAL Team 6 operators who took down Osama bin Laden had a K-9 with them, as did the Delta Force operators who killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.
Lena Toritch will be constructing the monument. The Russian-born artist has carved out numerous monuments to military and law enforcement K-9s around the country and abroad, including the K9 Memorial at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and the monument to Bretagne, a K-9 who assisted in the search and rescue efforts at World Trade Center after 9/1.
“I was honored to be a part of the Navy SEAL Museum’s Naval Special Warfare K9 Memorial from concept to complete project,” said Lena Toritch. “My training and extensive work on previous canine pieces provided the knowledge and emotion I felt necessary for this sculpture. I feel the utmost love and admiration for our fearless canine heroes. This statue depicts a split-second moment of a ‘fur missile’ that is locked on its target, focused with the mindset of ‘I am the storm.'”
According to the Museum, some legendary SEALs will be participating in the unveiling ceremony, including Retired Captain Rick Woolard, who was one of the first SEALs to work with K-9s in Vietnam and retired Master Chief Bill Eikenbary, who was the Military Working Dogs Program’s Senior Enlisted Advisor at SEAL Team 6.
Established in 1985 and located in Fort Pierce, Florida, the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum is a non-profit organization that aims to educate the public and honor and preserve the stories and legacy of the Underwater Demolition Teams and Navy SEALs. The museum is located on the same grounds where the first frogmen trained during World War Two.
The Museum has some rare artifacts in its collection. During a trip to the museum, a visitor can see the lifeboat of the MV Maersk Alabama in which three Somali pirates held Captain Richard Phillips captive.
It was a SEAL Team 6 squadron that rescued Captain Phillips in a rather dramatic fashion in 2009. The Somali pirates held the American sailor captive in the lifeboat, which was being towed by an American warship. The SEAL snipers had taken positions in the stern of the warship and monitored the lifeboat while negotiators were trying to come to an agreement with the pirates.
As the hours passed and a successful negotiation seemed less likely, the SEALs were cleared hot to take the pirates out if they had the opportunity. To be successful, all three pirates had to be killed at once, otherwise a surviving Somali would kill Phillips. When the opportunity came, the SEAL snipers didn’t miss. And now the same lifeboat in which the action took place resides at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum as a living testament to those warriors.