Smoky statue.

Smoky: World War II Hero Dog

Field review by the editors.

Cleveland, Ohio

World War II's littlest soldier stood only seven inches tall and weighed four pounds. She was "Smoky," an eight-month-old Yorkshire Terrier found abandoned in a foxhole in New Guinea in February 1944. She was adopted by Corporal Bill Wynne, who quickly discovered that the little dog was uncommonly adventurous, tough, and smart.

Smoky statue.

Smoky learned over 200 commands and hand signals. She survived kamikaze attacks, a typhoon on Okinawa, the Luzon invasion in the Philippians (where she saved Wynne's life by warning him of an incoming shell), and a sting from a six-inch jungle centipede. Smoky also flew with Wynne on twelve combat air missions, spending long hours in a soldier's pack dangling near the machine guns.

Smoky's most famous exploit occurred in January 1945, when she crawled through a tiny 70-foot-long culvert, choked with sand, on a captured Japanese island. Attached to her collar was a communications cable, and when she emerged on the other end she had spared GIs from exposure to enemy bombs and bullets. Her reward was the biggest steak the canteen could find.

Smoky, reporting for duty.

When the war ended Wynne smuggled the tiny dog back to the U.S. in an oxygen mask carrying case. The "Yorkie Doodle Dandy" became a celebrity as well as the world's first therapy dog, visiting wounded GIs in hospitals. When she died on February 21, 1957, Wynne buried her in a World War II .30 caliber ammo box in the Rocky River Reservation outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

Smoky's grave remained unmarked for nearly 50 years, until Vietnam veteran Jim Strand raised money for a monument. Bill Wynne still lived nearby with his family, and knew the spot. Dog sculptor Susan Bahary crafted a life-size bronze statue of a smiling Smoky sitting inside a GI helmet, an image taken from one of Wynne's photographs. It's anchored to a polished, two-ton blue granite pedestal that stands atop Smoky's grave. The Smoky and Dogs of All Wars memorial was unveiled on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005.

Bill Wynne was a frequent visitor to the monument until he passed away, age 99, on April 19, 2021. City regulations limited his interment to a traditional cemetery.

A information plaque next to the memorial lists other wartime "Canine Heroes" -- Nemo, York, Chips, and Stubby -- all worthy, but none with the star power of Smoky, "the most famous dog of World War II."

Also see: Sgt Stubby: WWI Hero Dog

Smoky: World War II Hero Dog

Rocky River Reservation

Address:
Valley Parkway, Cleveland, OH
Directions:
On the Rocky River Reservation, which is on the west side of the city. From US Hwy 20/Wooster Rd turn east onto Rockcliff Drive just south of I-90. Drive on Rockcliff until it ends, then turn right onto Valley Parkway. The monument will be on the right, just past the parking spaces and baseball fields, where the trees begin.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Sanctuary MuseumSanctuary Museum, Lakewood, OH - 3 mi.
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In the region:
Former Smallest Book in the World, Cleveland, OH - 8 mi.

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