By Linda Cole
Smoky was a stray Yorkshire Terrier who found herself lost in the jungles of New Guinea during WW II. This bright eyed, brave little Yorkie would go down in military history as a “champion mascot of the Southwest Pacific,” war hero and therapy dog. Smoky garnered so much positive attention that she is credited with giving new life to her breed, which was on the brink of obscurity, and making the Yorkshire Terrier one of the most popular breeds today.
An American soldier found the scruffy looking Terrier in 1944 in an abandoned foxhole deep in the jungle. How she got there was anyone’s guess. The soldier wasn’t a dog lover, but he rescued Smoky and gave her to a sergeant who worked in the motor pool. The sergeant needed cash to get back into a poker game, so he sold the cold, wet and half starved little dog to Corporal Bill Wynne for $6.44.
Wynne and Smoky bonded almost immediately, and for the next two years she rode in Wynne’s backpack around the South Pacific, and spent the rest of the war going on combat flights with him. Wynne was attached to the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron. Smoky wasn’t an official war dog, and didn’t have access to a proper diet or medical care. She slept with Wynne in his tent, and shared his rations. She was a hardy little dog, however, and despite her living conditions she never got sick or injured.
Smoky was so small – no more than four pounds, and seven inches tall – she could fit inside Wynne’s helmet. He didn’t know it at the time, but her small size is how she would earn her war dog reputation. American troops landed at an airfield in February 1945. Afraid the Japanese were planning a counter attack, Wynne’s recon unit needed to set up communications with headquarters to call for reinforcements, if they were needed. The problem was that cables had to be strung underneath the runway without tearing it up. Digging up the runway would mean 40 war planes would have to be moved, exposing them to enemy fire. It would take 3 days to accomplish their task.