By Harold Fuller
Eight new Marine Corps corporals were promoted here in 1944 and they were neither impressed nor showed the usual respect generally exhibited by men of the line. They would not wear their chevrons on their shirt sleeves or jackets but none the less they were the top dogs in Hawthorne Naval Ammunition here in Hawthorne.
Though the promotions climaxed over a year of faithful and dedicated service in the Marine Corps they exhibited no appreciative or military respect while praise was being heaped upon them by their superior officers. The eight recipients were all members of the War Dog detachment; four legged, highly trained guards of the Navy’s largest ammunitions depot. Certificates of promotion were presented to the trainer of each dog by Captain F.A. L. Vossler, USN, commanding officer of the depot. Vossler commended each animal and handler for the outstanding performance of duty.
The history of the War Dog detachment here was sketched by Marine Captain Virgil N. Lundy, commanding officer of the dog unit. Two dogs and four trainers were sent here in early 1943 from Camp Lejeune, N.C. and from that beginning, the level in 1944 was raised to 18 dogs and 27 men. With the size of the depot, the numerous high security buildings, the miles of fence line and the technology of the day, these dogs proved invaluable. Their ability to sniff out intruders, long before the awareness of their trainers, was quite remarkable. Training sessions with “invaders” were frequently held with a very high success rate; hence the promotions. It was in 1956 or 1957 while working with my long deceased good friend, Barney Addenbrook that he showed me one of the burial sites of these faithful guardians of the base but time has erased my memory as to the exact location.