Honoring Our Military Working Dogs

Image of the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. The monument features a bronze handler and four canines standing atop a pedestal that says “Guardians of America’s Freedom”.

Monument Background

Image of the Not Forgotten Fountain at the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. The bronze sculpture is a water fountain that represents a Vietnam-era dog handler and his German Shepherd.

The development of the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument (MWD) was spearheaded by Mr. John Burnam, a U. S. Army combat infantryman and German Shepherd Scout Dog Handler during the Vietnam War. While his war dog partners died in Vietnam, he wanted to keep their memories alive and mounted a campaign to create the monument. To provide the foundation for the project he established the John Burnam Monument Foundation in 2008. With the support of Congressman Walter Jones, the National Defense Authorizations Act for 2008 was amended and authorized the Burnam Foundation to design, fund, build and maintain the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument.


Since the Monument could not be placed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Joint Base San Antonio — Lackland (JBSA-Lackland) was the most appropriate alternate location. Historically, the base has been the recruiting and training facility for the U.S. Armed Services military working dog program since 1958. It also provides training for working dogs for other government agencies. JBSA – Lackland is also home of the Holland Veterinary Military Working Dog Hospital, the only one of its kind. The monument was constructed and unveiled on October 28, 2013, adjacent to the parade grounds. In 2014, the John Burnam Monument Foundation was deactivated, gifting the structure to JBSA – Lackland, and transferring maintenance of the Monument to the Airman Heritage Foundation (AHF).


Elements of the Monument

The monument incorporates the history of the war-dog program from WWII to the Wars on Terror and includes five of the U.S. Armed Services (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard). When selecting breeds to be on display at the monument, four dog breeds stood out over others that were trained and deployed from WWII to the War on Terror. The dog breeds highlighted on the national monument include the Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Belgian Malinois. Each of the bronze dogs stands at about 60 inches.


WWII (1941 – 1945): In 1942, the United States initiated the first war-dog program. The Doberman Pinscher was significant in saving lives in the Pacific and European theaters as a scout and sentry. German Shepherds performed as sentries, scouts, and messengers in both the Pacific and European Theaters. In America, the Coast Guard deployed German Shepherds to guard coast waters, beaches, and major riverways.


Korean War (1950 -1953) The German Shepard was the primary breed used for scouting and sentry duty.


Vietnam War (1960 – 1975): The German Shepherd was used for scouting, sentry, patrol, and mine and booby-trap detection. The Labrador was deployed as a tracker.


War on Terror (1990 – Present): During the Gulf War, Afghanistan War, and Iraq War, the U.S. deployed the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever to search and detect improvised explosive devices, mines, and booby-traps. These dogs were also used for patrolling, building search, drug detection, and additional special search missions.


Featured at the monument is a 9.5-foot dog handler to represent and honor military dog handlers past and present. The handler and four canines stand atop a pedestal that says “Guardians of America’s Freedom” and is featured in front of a granite wall that displays a brief history of the military war-dog team. On the back end of the granite history, a laser-etched design was mounted to display an artistic impression of authentic photos of war-dog teams in action.


Near the national monument also sits the Not Forgotten Fountain. The bronze sculpture is a water fountain that represents a Vietnam-era dog handler and his German Shepherd.


Visiting the Monument

Image of the back wall of the Military Working Dog Teams Monument. The monument honors the history and sacrifices made by military working dogs and their handlers.

For those wishing to visit JBSA – Lackland to visit the monument, any DoD ID card holder can visit the monument during JBSA – Lackland’s normal operational hours and at the discretion of the base commander.  All other US citizens with a valid state or government issued ID (such as driver’s license) can visit the monument by requesting a pass at the East Luke Visitor Center.  The East Luke Visitor Control Center at 2602 Luke Blvd., JBSA- Lackland, TX, 78236 can issue a pass to visit the monument after all members of your party have been vetted and cleared through the system. ONLY the East Luke Visitor Center can issue passes to the MWDT Monument. For any questions, call 210-671-6174.

The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is located on the southeast corner of the 37th Training Wing Parade field. Once you enter the installation, take a right at the stop sign onto Kenly Ave. Parking is available on the lot south of the 37 Training Wing HQ Building.


Support the Monument

In 2014 the responsibility for care and maintenance of monument was transferred to the Airman Heritage Foundation. To support the ongoing preservation of the Military Working Dogs Teams National Monument, the Foundation encourages supporters to contribute to the monument in the following ways . . .

Direct Donations – Financial contributions can be made safely online on the Foundation’s donation page. If you wish to send in your gift, checks can be mailed to the Airman Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 761422, San Antonio, TX, 78245-6422. Please designate the MWD Monument on your contribution.

Purchase a Legacy Paver – Legacy Pavers (bricks) are installed on the parade field at JBSA – Lackland as a way to honor military service members – past, present, and future. Pavers honoring military working dogs and handlers can be placed in the pathway leading to the monument. To place an order, visit the Legacy Pavers page on the Foundation’s website.

Buy Merchandise – The Airman Heritage Foundation has created a print on demand store that allows you to purchase merchandise to support the MWD Monument. Take a look at the current designs on our Shopify store!