An affecting testimonial to the bond between American soldiers in Vietnam and their canine helpers, A Soldier’s Best Friend is veteran John C. Burnam’s account of his tenure as a scout dog handler patrolling the jungles of Vietnam with his German shepherd, Clipper, at his side.
There were 10,000 soldiers in Vietnam like Burnam, accompanied by these intelligent, adaptable scout dogs. Between hazardous missions, the dogs were loving, playful friends who shared the lives of their human squadmates, while in the combat zone they were all business. Routinely braving danger, the canines searched for injured GIs, probed for potentially lethal booby traps, located underground weapons caches, and warned of approaching enemy attacks and ambushes. So valuable was the dogs’ service that the Viet Cong offered a hefty bounty for their lives. Despite their heroism, many of these dogs were abandoned at the conflict’s end, left to fend for themselves.