Sixty-six years ago, American troops were fighting on Korean soil as they came to the aid of South Korea in the Korean War. Today, those who served in the 1950's era war are able to unite and connect through the Korean War Veterans Association, and local veterans meet as part of the War Dogs Chapter 203.
The KWVA was organized in 1985 with many goals in mind, one of which was to promote and establish war and other memorials commemorative of any person who served in the Korean War. The Turlock-based group officially became a chapter of KWVA on May 31, 2001, and its name of War Dogs comes as a tribute to the four-legged soldiers that have served the country.
“We decided we would name the chapter ‘War Dogs’ to dedicate and bring honor to all dogs used in 20th century wars,” said War Dogs secretary Don Strand.
The chapter meets at Turlock’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall on the third Saturday of every month and stays active by participating in projects and contributing to the children of other veterans. The War Dogs are 32 members strong, ranging in age from 75 to 90 years old. While many members of the chapter reside in the Stanislaus County, some travel from as far as Ione, Stockton and Newman to meet with their fellow veterans.
“We’re still viable and blessed to be able to come together,” said Strand.
Recently, the chapter played a large part in the rededication of the city’s War Memorial Cannon, a 105 MM Howitzer Artillery Cannon that was relocated from 900 N. Palm Avenue – a property it called home for more than 50 years – to its new location at Central Park. The KWVA War Dogs, along with other local veterans groups, had stakes in the project and worked closely with the City to find the cannon’s new resting spot.
Although not officially recognized by KWVA until 2001, the War Dogs are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a chapter and encourage any Korean War veterans or Korean service veterans to join their ranks.
“We exist to bring honor and to continue the legacy of those who served our country in the Korean War and all those who saved lives in order to establish a free South Korea,” said Strand.
Those interested in joining War Dogs Chapter 203 may contact Strand at 209-634-9498 for more information.