shipping dogs home
I noticed that Dan Lange, Crew Chief of the P-38 "Little Butch" on Shemya during the years 1945-1946, had a best buddy dog on Shemya named "Red." Being curious to know how the folks in the Aleutians would bring their dogs home with them, I asked Dan for the story. Here's Dan's response: The dog I brought home with me in 1946 was one of the easiest operations I experienced in the AAF. The dog was called "Red." He followed me to my hut one cold, windy and snowy night and we bonded immediately. I was told that we could bring a dog home with us if we would make a wooden box to transport him in. When we were told we were going home I made a box for the dog, but I was going to have a hut buddy ship the dog to me instead of me bringing the dog with me. The night we were to leave Shemya for Attu the weather was as usual very bad. Since we had to take a BSP (Boat Steam Powered, a 75 foot Army boat) to get to Attu in order to catch a ride on a ship headed for home, and that we were delayed by the weather, and as we could not be reabsorbed back into our squadron, they had to house us on Shemya anywhere they could find a place for us. I was then informed that we could take a dog with us, so I got a message to my former hut mates to get the dog to me. Luck was with me and they brought the box and my dog to me! The next day the winds, rain and snow let up a little bit so off we went to Attu. I was also told that the dog would have to stay on the ship's deck, but I didn't do that. I had the dog sleep in my bunk with me. I don't know if you were ever on a Liberty Ship before, but had you been you'd know that the quarters were very crowded. In fact, to roll over you had to get out of the bunk, change your position, then get back in! So my dog and I experienced very crowded sleeping quarters for about 15 days. We took the southern way home aboard the U.S. Henry Failing and found the ocean was a lot smoother then when we originally went to Shemya via a more northerly route. When we got to Seattle all the guys with dogs had to get their dog's health inspected. After that I loaded him on a train and he subsequently arrived safely at our home. Although the above description sounds complicated, it went very smoothly. I didn't get home until a week later. My mom and dad had picked up Red from the train station. They were naturally afraid because he was a big dog (what parents do for their kids). My mother told me that the dog kept looking around at the tall buildings. He must have been totally confused by them to say nothing about the little kids, women, trees any anything else he had not seen on Shemya. He was a real friend for 10 more years. I would take him on dates with me and my future wife. I even took him to school with me, not inside but he would wait in the car until my class got out. I would take him when I had only one class for the day. I don't know if I answered the question...but maybe I will sum it up by saying I would do it again if I could turn back the clock. He was such a good friend for his whole life. It saddens me when I think of him again. I didn't mean to write this much, however I can only say he had a profound effect on my life. Dan Lange