Smoky The Terrier: A Tiny War Hero Immortalized As part of a summer series about curious roadside monuments — called "Honey, Stop The Car!" — Paul Cox of member station WCPN reports the story behind a statue honoring one of World War II's smallest heroes: Cleveland's Smoky the Terrier.
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Smoky The Terrier: A Tiny War Hero Immortalized

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Smoky The Terrier: A Tiny War Hero Immortalized

Smoky The Terrier: A Tiny War Hero Immortalized

Smoky The Terrier: A Tiny War Hero Immortalized

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/138946267/138946304" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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As part of a summer series about curious roadside monuments — called "Honey, Stop The Car!" — Paul Cox of member station WCPN reports the story behind a statue honoring one of World War II's smallest heroes: Cleveland's Smoky the Terrier.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's time for another leg in our summer road trip, which we're calling Honey Stop the Car. You know, that moment when you see something along the side of the road that captures you're attention; a monument maybe, and you can't help but pull over and check it out.

This morning, we're going to stop the car in Cleveland, at a statue to probably the tiniest hero of WWII.

Paul Cox of member station WCPN reports.

(Soundbite of a roadway)

PAUL COX: There's a string of parks in and around Cleveland, known by locals as the Emerald Necklace. Standing in one is a polished black granite pedestal. On top is a bronze Yorkshire terrier named Smoky, nestled inside a life size World War II Army helmet. The sculpture resembles a photograph taken by the dog's owner, 89-year-old veteran Bill Wynne.

Mr. BILL WYNNE: When I first saw Smoky, she came to me and she wagged her tail.

COX: Wynne lives a few hours from the park with two terriers who look an awful lot like Smoky. In 1944, Wynne was part of an Army squadron on the Philippine Island of Luzon. Smoky was found abandoned on a battlefield and Wynne bought her from an Army buddy for six bucks.

Smoky was good at learning tricks and taking commands.

Mr. WYNNE: She was. She was learning everything I was giving her. I taught her to walk between my legs and jump over my feet, jump hurdles.

COX: The training came in handy. Wynne's group was helping revamp a former Japanese airfield for use by American planes. Stringing communication wire was a major challenge.

Mr. WYNNE: They were going to have to find a way to get these wires underneath the airstrip. And we didn't have telephone poles; you couldn't have wires hanging over there. So the logical thing to do was go through one of these culverts that they had, that the Corps of Engineers had put in to drain the field.

COX: It would have taken three days to dig a new trench to lay the wires and would have exposed men and planes to enemy bombing. So, the troop's lineman wondered if Smoky could guide the wire.

They tied a string to Smoky's collar and Wynne coaxed the four-pound terrier through the pipe.

Mr. WYNNE: Come, Smoky. Come on, baby. Come on. Come. You know, I kept calling her. Is she still coming? He goes: Yeah, I'm still feeding line. She came all the way through the pipe.

COX: It took just minutes. Smoky got two rewards, a big piece of steak and a small piece of immortality.

Mr. WYNNE: You couldn't get a dog in a thousand to go through a dark tunnel like that that they'd never seen before. But she was well-trained in obedience, and she did it because I asked her to. She trusted me.

COX: After her heroism on Luzon, Smoky and Wynne spent time visiting wounded troops in hospitals in the Pacific and stateside.

When Vietnam vet Jim Strand heard about Smoky, he was so moved that he raised money for her monument.

Mr. JIM STRAND (Vietnam Veteran/Fundraiser): A lot of people don't know what war dogs have done, even veterans.

COX: Strand has tracked many war dogs, like Butch, who dragged a wounded Marine to safety in World War II, but took 17 bullets before dying. Butch was a strapping Doberman, Smoky, a seven-inch high terrier.

Mr. STRAND: For a little dog like that, for what it did. Oh yeah, she's definitely a hero.

COX: Smoky died in her sleep in 1957. She is buried in the base of her monument.

For NPR News, I'm Paul Cox.

(Soundbite of song, "I'd like to Give My Dog to Uncle Sam")

Mr. OZZIE WATERS (Singer): (Singing) I'd like to give my dog to Uncle Sam...

INSKEEP: Okay. Okay. We can get back in the car now. But we'll stop it again through the summer on MORNING EDITION and WEEKEND EDITION. And you can follow along at NPR.org.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Soundbite of song, "I'd like to Give My Dog to Uncle Sam")

Mr. WATERS: (Singing) I'd like to do my part and show what's in my heart, and help my country win this war that we are in. My Rover, he can hear a mile...

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