Michael Johnson sent this story and I loved it. I’m guessing you will, too!
THROWING MY LOOP…
A True Member of the Greatest Generation
In 1939 there was a young doctor in our home town. His name was Ellis Blair McGee. His dad had been the only doctor in town for years, and now his son would
be joining the practice…but there was a little problem. The winds of war were blowing on the other side of the world – and the young Dr. McGee had an idea.
My father, Cork, was twenty years old at the time, and his sister had just joined Dr. McGee’s practice as a nurse (where she would remain for 53 years.) Dr. McGee approached my dad and proposed the following, “Why don’t you go enlist in the Army? If you will do that, I can request you as my medic. We can stay together and watch out for each other. Once we have served our year, we can have our military service out of the way, and come home.” My dad thought that was a great idea. He would later say, “It took me five years in Europe with Dr. McGee to serve that year.” But back to the story…
My dad traveled down to the recruiting office on that day he signed up. The recruiter took care of all the paperwork and the deal was sealed…or so everyone thought. The next day, my dad shows up back at the recruiter’s office.
“Forget something?” asked the recruiter. “I hope you are not going to try to back out. Bit too late for that.”
“No, no,” said my father. “Nothing like that. I just forgot something.”
“And what would that be?” asked the recruiter.
“My dog,” my dad said. “I forgot about my dog.”
My dad said, “At that point, I will never forget that recruiter leaning back in his chair and saying, ‘Oh, I bet this is really gonna’ be good.’ ”
For the next ten minutes or so, my dad explained how his crazy idea wasn’t quite so crazy after all. “He’s a big dog. German Shepherd. Almost five now and has his full growth. My mother and I read in the paper that the army needs dogs for the K-9 Corps. So here’s what I’m thinking,” he said. “All these young people down there at the boot camp in Brownsville, Texas – they’re gonna’ have to stay there six weeks. They will be homesick. They won’t know anybody.” (Now the recruiter is leaning forward.) “Poochie – that’s his name, Poochie – would be a real morale booster. He’s a friendly dog. You could let him go to boot camp with us. Some of my cousins are going with me. They all know Poochie. Now,” my dad said beginning his conclusion, “…if you will let Poochie stay with us at boot camp, when we are done, my mother and I have agreed we will give Poochie to the K-9 Corps. Our only condition is that if the dog lives through the war, you send him home.”
I guess nothing explains the magic of my father like what happened next.
He said the recruiter stared at him for the longest time not saying anything. Then, he raised one finger as if to say, “Hold it a minute.” He dialed a number – talked a while. He hung up and looked at my father again and grinned. “They are going to consider it.” Three days later, my grandmother and father were notified that Poochie would be going to Brownsville with my father and uncles. After six weeks, Poochie would be taken into the K-9 Corps with the promise that if he lived through the war, the dog would be sent home. Poochie became a member of the
K-9 Corps and spent most of his time in Europe and… Poochie made it home. Four years older, but just fine. My grandmother said she received two telegrams about Poochie’s service during his time in Europe.
Poochie made it home and 11 days later, my dad did. When I asked my grandmother what that reunion was like she said…. “It was Joy.”
He lived until he was 14.
My dad stayed at Dr. McGee’s side for almost five years. After a couple of years back stateside, Dr. McGee would deliver his son…me. I grew up with my dad and uncles, Dr. McGee, and stories of Poochie. No one was ever more fortunate.
Ed. note – Cork on the left, Poochie, and a friend in 1940 Brownsville boot camp… doing a trick.
— Michael Johnson