Maybe the most unlikely hero story of World War II is that of Smoky, a 4 pound Yorkshire Terrier. Found in the New Guinea jungle in 1944 by a young soldier and then sold to Corporal William A. Wynne, Smoky spent two years backpacking through the rest of the war and accompanying Wynne on combat flights in the Pacific. Unofficially serving with the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron, she flew 12 air/sea rescue and reconnaissance missions, dangling in a soldier’s pack. Smoky was credited with 12 combat missions, awarded eight battle stars, survived 150 air raids on New Guinea and one typhoon in Okinawa. In a specially made parachute, she even jumped from a 30 foot tower. In her most heroic feat, Smoky helped engineers build an airbase at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, by running a telegraph wire through a 70 foot long pipe. Wynne tied the wire to Smoky’s collar, guided her into the pipe, and ran to the other end to coax her out. Smoky’s work prevented the need to move 40 fighter and recon planes to make way for a construction crew to dig, which would have put them in harm’s way by enemy bombings. A three day digging task to lay the wire was instead completed by a 4 pound Yorkie in minutes!
In their downtime, Smoky learned numerous tricks, entertaining troops and hospitals from Australia to Korea. After the war Smoky became a national sensation, and spent the next 10 years traveling with Wynne all over the world to perform her tricks, including walking a tightrope while blindfolded. The two even had a TV show of their own, called “Castles in the Air”. Over 42 live broadcasts, Smoky never repeated a trick!
Back in Wynne’s hometown of Cleveland, Smoky died in 1957 at the age of 14. A monument stands at the Eastlake Doggie Park, honoring “World War II’s littlest soldier and most famous war dog”.
Article Written by Jenny Smith