|OSU Participates in Memorial Ceremony as - Former Air Force ROTC Instructor Honors his War Dog|
On Friday, Oct. 19, 2007, Lieutenant Colonel Lorren L. Perdue, USAF Retired made good on a promise he made nearly 54 years ago. It involved his former flying companion, Ace, a black Australian Shepherd War Dog.
Colonel Perdue was a World War II pilot. He met Ace in Nadzab, New Guinea, in September 1943 when he obtained the puppy from an A-20 bomber who was on the same air strip as the 66th Troop Carrier Squadron planes.
“The puppy was very sick with distemper but our squadron physician cured him,” recalls Col. Perdue.
Then a captain, Col. Perdue raised and trained Ace to be a War Dog using an Army K-9 training manual.
“When I wasn’t flying combat missions, I was training Ace,” he says. “He could follow either voice or hand signal commands.”
According to Col. Perdue, the canine liked to fly and became the mascot of the 66th Troop Carrier Squadron, 403rd T.C. Group. Ace accompanied Col. Perdue on missions such as over New Guinea as they dropped paratroopers or supplies to troops fighting in the jungles. To his knowledge, Ace is the only War Dog that flew with his pilot trainer.
“Ace was with me when I was assigned a mission to fly a large group of Army airport civil engineers to Japan to inspect conditions of usable air fields. Our C-46 aircraft was America’s first aircraft to land in Tokyo following World War II,” says Col. Perdue. “These Army engineers inspected every landing field and airport in the Tokyo area suitable for troop-carrying aircraft to land.”
It was a week-long mission and Ace guarded their C-46 plane 24 hours a day. From there the group flew to Vladivostok, Russia, to meet with the Russian general about airfields that could be used in emergencies. Next they flew to Korea to inspect airfields and refuel.
“Our last flight was to Shanghai, China, for a similar mission, then on to Okinawa and Manila, Philippines,” he says.
Ace and his owner pilot boss flew more than 500 hours in the Southwest Pacific. At the end of the war, Col. Perdue arranged for Ace to go to America on a cargo ship because the Navy would not permit pets on board. Ace traveled via the Panama Canal to New Jersey where the crew shipped Ace to Col. Perdue’s parents in Montgomery, Ala.
“My father met Ace at the train station and took him home,” he says. “My mother told me that Ace went straight to my bedroom and slept there until I returned shortly before Christmas 1945,” recalls Col. Perdue.
Ace and Col. Perdue were reunited again and remained together until Ace died.
Following World War II, Col. Perdue was assigned to the Air Force ROTC staff at Oklahoma A&M College, now Oklahoma State University (OSU). There Ace continued to fly in Air Force and civilian aircraft. He was a licensed “War Dog” in the Air Force and wore a “dog tag” on his collar. He accumulated more than 1,000 hours of flight time. Ace would accompany Col. Perdue to all 66th T.C. Sq. annual reunions, which were held in different large cities throughout the U.S. His last 66th Troop Carrier Reunion was in New York City on July 4, 1953, four months before his death.
According to newspaper accounts of the world famous War Dog, Ace didn’t particularly care for his “rather tame life here in the states.” It seemed whenever Ace saw an airplane, he would run over to it and look at his owner as if to say, “Come on boss, what’s the matter? Let’s get in the air.”
“Ace also liked to go hunting with me,” says Col. Perdue. “In November 1953, we were pheasant hunting near Stillwater. Ace went to retrieve a bird and didn’t come back. When I found him, he was laying down, whimpering. I rushed him to the Oklahoma A&M Veterinary School.”
In 1953, the Small Animal Clinic was located on the first floor of McElroy Hall. Veterinarians examined the dog and determined he had suffered a heart attack. They treated Ace and sent him home with Col. Perdue. The next morning, Col. Perdue returned Ace to the veterinary hospital.
“He could not walk,” says Col. Perdue. “The veterinarians were going to see if they could do anything but his heart gave out later that morning.”
Col. Perdue agreed to a necropsy (animal autopsy), which showed that Ace died of a heart condition.
“Mr. Hoyt Walkup, former Air Force pilot but now the Stillwater airport manager, assisted me in burying Ace in an Army footlocker under the airport tetrahedron (wind T) in front of the airport terminal building,” says Col. Perdue. “Hoyt and I decided to have a plaque made and to display it in the terminal building. That was almost 54 years ago.”
Now, at the age of 85, Col. Perdue is fulfilling that promise. On this return trip to Stillwater, he brought a specially made memorial plaque honoring Ace, the War Dog, and his best friend.
Col. Perdue was greeted by family, friends, alumni, and OSU representatives from the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences and others as they commemorated the life of this military War Dog.
America’s war dogs were trained to recognize booby traps, mines, tunnels and weapons caches. They warned troops about ambushes and saved lives by dragging wounded soldiers to safety. America’s war dogs bravely served in World War II, Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.
Several war dog memorials have been erected including monuments at the United States Marine Corps War Dog Cemetery on Guam, March Air Force Base, Calif., and the National Infantry Museum, Ft. Benning, Ga.