Service members, families and friends joined together for the unveiling of the Camp Pendleton War Dogs sign here July 20.
Sgt. Adam L. Cann created the sign before he was killed in action, at the age of 23, by a suicide-bomb attack on a police recruitment station in Ramadi, Iraq.
The day began with a sneak preview of the Dawgs of War exhibit at the Ranch House here. The exhibit is a display of pictures and statues dedicated to military working dogs and their handlers.
“We just left the War Dawgs exhibit over at the Ranch house,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Prindiville, the provost marshal with the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Police Department. “It really recognizes the accomplishments and sacrifices of the canine community. This is also to moralizing Sgt. Cann and the influence that he has on everyone here, and we’re commemorating his ultimate sacrifice.”
After a tour of the exhibit the group traveled to the Provost Marshals kennels here, where the sign would be displayed.
“This is an indescribable honor for an old dog to be here today to recognize a young man who has become an icon,” said Jon Hemp, the co-founder of The Dawgs Project. “I love this kid, he is everything that my generation hoped to accomplish, and he gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.”
Hemp played a large role in moving and displaying the sign over the years.
“I was sitting in a class room in 2009 when I got a phone call saying the sign needed to be relocated or it would be thrown away, due to the remodeling of the kennel facility,” said Hemp. “Well, no one puts Adam Cann’s sign in a dumpster.”
“We had arrangements to have it secured at March Air Base,” said Hemp. “It has been gone a long time, it belongs here; this is your sign. I cannot tell you how absolutely proud I am to have any part in moving this sign back here and presenting it to you today.”
According to Prindiville, Sgt. Cann has had a huge impact on the community because he was the first military dog handler killed in action since the Vietnam era.
“The bond that we see in this community, and seeing the important role that canines have made is truly great,” said Prindiville. “During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, we saw a lot of evolving capabilities, being out there on patrols putting themselves in harms way.”
While there have been great improvements in technology over the years nothing can replace the human nature of military dog handlers or the instincts of the working dogs, said Prindiville.
“We can’t put a price tag on the number of lives they have saved and the success that they have had on the battle field so it is important to pay our respects to that,” said Prindiville.