You probably don’t think of a four pound Yorkshire Terrier as being a war dog. In fact some people don’t think of the Yorkie, the second most popular dog of 2007, as being anything more than a fashion accessory.
But Bill Wynne, a World War II veteran from Mansfield, Ohio, and his whole squadron would disagree with you.
Wynne, 85, flew more than a dozen missions in the South Pacific as a reconnaissance photographer flying over Japanese held territory. And Smoky was right there with him.
They found each other when Smoky crawled out of a foxhole in New Guinea. The sergeant who found her didn’t like dogs, so Wynne bought her for two Australian pounds, enough for the sergeant to get back into his poker game.
Wynne named her Smoky after his hometown Cleveland, famous for the smoke in the air. Smoky became the mascot of his unit, the 26th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron of the Fifth Air Force.
When Wynne came down with a fever and was hospitalized, everyone realized the therapeutic value of the tiny dog making the rounds in the hospital. “The wounded soldiers just loved her, “ Wynne said.” She was a wonderful morale booster.”
During her service years she earned eight campaign ribbons and the deep respect of the 26th. Her finest hour came at an airfield in the Philippines. A communications line had to be laid under the airfield runway. The only choice seemed to be to tear up the field. “But that would have exposed 40 war planes to enemy attack,” Wynne said.
Then it was Smoky to the rescue. They attached a feeder line to her collar and coaxed her into pulling the line through a 70-foot long, eight-inch wide culvert under the runway. It was frightening and dangerous, but Smoky made the trip and landed in Wynne’s waiting arms.
At one time Smoky saved Wynne’s life by warning him of incoming shells and guiding him to safety away from incoming fire that killed eight men standing next to them.
The picture above of Smoky in Wynne’s helmet was featured in an armed forces newspaper story of the time.
She did give birth to two pups along the way.
“She lost her Good Conduct Medal over that,” Wynne said.
During the war Smoky learned to do a lot of doggie tricks and after the war Wynne and Smoky returned to Cleveland where they performed in nightclubs and hospitals and appeared at dog shows.
She is buried in an ammunition box in the Metroparks Rocky River Reservation. On top of the monument is a sculpture of little Smoky sitting in Wynne’s combat helmet.
Today Wynne has two Yorkies, Habie who is 14 and Smoky Too.
You can bet these Yorkies will never be carried in a purse.
More on Bill Wynne and Smoky the war dog from the Mansfield News Journal