The Story of "Red's" Journey Home
|It has often been said that a dog is
man's best friend. Given the isolation of Shemya, the
reverse may well also be true: "Man is a dog's best
The story of how man's (and women's, it turns out) best friends originally found their way to the Aleutian Islands has yet to be precisely understood. It is known that during WW-II several GIs, including high-ranking officers, brought dogs with them into the war zones. One may recall General George S. Patton's famous Bull Terrier "William the Conqueror," or simply "Willie" for short, that Patton had acquired in March of 1944. The GIs had otherwise somehow inherited dogs as they traveled along the way from the comforts of their home in the "good old USA" to their assignments in the cold, windy, miserable Aleutians. These companions were seen as new friends wanting nothing but a little attention, some food, and a warm place to sleep...much like the GIs assigned to the Aleutians. Kindred spirits, no doubt. Jerry Dubuque's story about the original Boozer sheds a lot of light on this "mystery!"
The original Boozer made his appearance on Shemya well before the Boozer(s) that many of us knew in the late 50's, 60's, or 70's. Jerry Dubuque, stationed on Shemya from 1943 to 1946, was kind enough to send us a picture of a little puppy peeking over the top of the combat boot in which he was cradled, and the story to accompany the photo of the original Boozer, "Boozer I."
The Boozer folks knew in the late 50's and 60's must have therefore been "Boozer II," with "Boozer III" eventually making an appearance on Shemya sometime after 1969. Boozer III was the "Boozer" I knew during my visit to the Rock during 1975/76. Boozer III had many of the characteristics of a German Shepherd breed as I recall.
We don't know what eventually became of the original "Boozer." He simply vanished one day, and we can only hope that someone was kind enough to bring him home with them when they departed the Island.
Boozer II made his appearance on "The Rock" somewhere around 1956. He quickly made friends with everyone and gained a place in virtually everyone's heart during his lifetime. This can be attested to by the inscription on the plaque donated in Boozer II's memory as follows: "The Greatest Morale Factor on Shemya Since WWII."
I knew of Boozer II from hearsay, stories, and from the inscription on the plaque commemorating Boozer (II) by earlier inhabitants of Shemya Island, AK. We also had a dog named "Boozer," Boozer III. When I was stationed on the Rock from 1975-76, like his famous predecesors, he was a friend to all. He could be found on the stage at the base theater during Commander's Call standing alongside the troops. You would see him riding on the shuttle bus as well as in whatever other vehicle would give him a lift. This page is dedicated to the original Boozer and all of his offspring and namesakes. Without a doubt, the Boozers were perhaps the most famous and well-liked of all of Shemya's inhabitants.
Over the years several folks have donated pictures and stories of the Boozer(s). It is from these sources that this page has been assembled. My thanks goes out to Walter Williams (1958-1959), Charles Bryan (1960-1961), Ron Rough (1961-1962), Tim Wesbecher (Aug 65 - Aug 66), Tom Ryan (1966), Bruce Stern (1968-1969), Duane McEwen, Don Timmons, and most recently Don Maris and Ron Austin for their initial contributions. These inputs stretch from 1999 to 7 Dec 2007. Since then we have received several more great photos of the "Boozers" from folks that have spent time on Shemya. Our thanks goes to them as well for the great additional content on this our "Boozer" page. If I have somehow missed your inputs to this story, or if you have additional stories to share, please get in touch and I'd be happy to add your contribution. A special thanks goes to Jerry Dubuque (1943-1946) for supplying information about the "original" Boozer, Boozer I. If anyone has any photos of the Boozer that lived on Shemya during the 1975 timeframe, please get in touch...I'd like to post some of his photos as well!
The Original "Boozer"
|"BOOZER...As I remember it, on
Shemya in 1944, after the hospital was completed and
in operation, Shemya was blessed with
The first women on the island. The story goes
that one of the nurses had a female cocker spaniel.
Word got around that the poor young lady Spaniel
should have a family. Well, it seemed someone on Attu,
35 miles west of us, had a black Cocker who was
lonely. The humans got together and decided to cheat
romance and go scientific. "Jack" on Attu never had
the fun of meeting "Jill" on Shemya. All she got was
the injection, and one great little black puppy, who
was to be called "Boozer." Now, how the name came
about, I don't know.
Boozer was to be well known on the island. There were many dogs around, but Boozer was the Top Dog. He was a loveable pup, friendly to everyone. He accepted a ride from anyone willing to take him. He was around for a couple of years. One day he seemed to have disappeared. The only conclusion we figured out is that someone took him with them to the States on rotation. But, fear not, I'm sure the name Boozer was carried on and on. Everyone missed the little cocker, but if he did end up in the States, it's what we all would have wanted. The picture of Boozer in the boot was taken during one of his "visits" with us."
(Additional Thanks to The Sterlings for their help!)
|I went to Shemya after we closed down St. Lawrence Island in
1957. We didn't have Boozer at the time, but Major Relac had him
flown in from the Navy base at Adak. I think they were closing their
site. When Boozer was not out enjoying life on the island he would
take quarters under my bunk. He was a good watch dog as he did not
like our 1st Sgt and wouldn't allow him in to the portion of our
WWII barrack. That's correct, we were living in old WWII barracks
and enjoying life. Anyway, This is a picture of myself and Boozer
taken in 1957.
Roland "Smokey" Rush
Mobile AL., 36608-3545
Boozer II, Summer of
1957 - 1968
Ron Austin was on Shemya in 1966, and snapped these photos of Arthur Godfrey's short visit to Shemya for a refuel. He seemed to like old Boozer.
John Stillwell and Boozer II, Fall of 1958, by Don Maris
I was on Shemya from Sep 62-Sep 63,
assigned to 6984th.
|This was taken Now 25, 1963 (just after the assassination of President Kennedy). I was the AIC of the 5073rd Orderly Room. We put together an Honor Guard to lower the flag during the mourning period. Tom Barnes.|
April 1958-May 1959. USAFSS Shemya Station.
Fall of 1958...Boozer was special friend of mine (see two photos above, one with John Stillwell...John, you out there somewhere?). I use to take him to the wooden movie theatre and put him down sideways in front of me and put my feet under him to keep them warm. He never seemed to mind. My last night on Shemya I did exactly that. I left Boozer with my friend in the theatre. Don Maris
Sep 60- Sep 61. Speaking of Boozer, ours was a black Husky loved by everyone and who tolerated all except the Doctor (so they said) because he gave him his shots. Boozer died 12/31/68, buried at the flag pole I understand. Charles Bryan
Oct 61-Nov 62. There were 4 dogs on station at that time. Boozer, Neal, and 2 smaller mutts that I don't believe had names. We were threatened with Article 15's once for taking Boozer into the barracks and giving him a shower. Ron Rough
Aug 65 - Aug 66 (and again 1995-96) The pictures I am sending are of boozer, I understand he died sometime in the late sixties. Tim Wesbecher
1966. The photo of Boozer II (2nd photo from top of page) was taken in the summer of 1966. Boozer was a malamute husky and the mascot of the USAFSS. He slept out in front of the consolidated and his favorite food was knockwurst soaked in beer. Unfortunately, the guys frequently kept Boozer drunk until Draino put a ban on that activity. Boozer had a son named LBJ (some thought after our then president) but it actually meant Little Boozer Junior. The president was referred to in far less kinder words (flim flam man, teenage assassin, etc.) Tom Ryan
Apr 68 - Apr 69. I was on the rock from April 68 to April 69. I worked in the orderly room under Col. Ashworth and Capt Dorsey. When I arrived boozer was still walking around. On new years day I and the rest of the base attended boozer's funeral. Bruce Stern
Dec 68 - Jan 69. I found a copy of the USAF Alaskan Communications Region Newssheet "The Circuit" dated Dec 1968/Jan 1969. There is about a page and a half article in there from TSgt, Earl Dye, Information NCO, 2064 Comm Sq., Shemya, Alaska. One of the main parts of the article concerns the demise of Boozer. That portion of the article follows:
TRIBUTE TO BOOZER II
At 1200 hours on the last day of 1968, a living legend, Boozer, was put to sleep on Shemya following a long illness. The 2064th Comm Sq., together with other organizations of the base, turned out in mourning when Col. Ashworth, Base Commander and Lt. Col. Slesinger, USASA Commander, acting on the advice of the Base Surgeon's Office, authorized Boozer's demise. Although at different times Boozer was claimed by both the Army and the Air Force units as their mascot, it is generally conceded that he belonged to the entire island. The island also belonged to Boozer; there was nowhere that he was not welcome. He was so popular that US Army Security Agency Field Station, Shemya, appointed Boozer a Command Sergeant Major. It is believed he also carried a colonelcy in the Air Force Reserve. "Often touted as the greatest morale factor on Shemya, Boozer, the island's oldest and longest steady resident was laid to rest on New Year's Day 1969 in a place of honor next to the Shemya "plug." The dog, who was at least part Husky, had a somewhat nebulous history. It is commonly thought that he was brought to the island in 1956 by the Army commander at the time and was somewhere between 12 and 16 years old. Anyone having information concerning Boozer's history is encouraged to submit it so that a factual history can be developed. A collection has already been started for a bronze plaque commemorating Boozer. It will be affixed to the wall at the main entrance to the Composite Building where Boozer could be found when alive. Donations for the plaque and information concerning Boozer may be sent to CO, USAFS, Shemya, APO Seattle 98736." Duane McEwen
FOUND A REQUEST FOR A PICTURE OF THE PLAQUE THEY
I was on Shemya from 1963-1964 with the 79th USASASOU. I did cartoons for the rag after Gerry Butler left. For reasons known only to the military, the PX received a gross or two of condoms while I was there. Remember, there were no women, and this was before AIDS was a concern. I did a cartoon of Boozer standing in front of the glass counter, curiously pondering the items (there weren't any "ladies" there for Boozer either). One of the most striking things as I surfed the [Shemya] guest comments was how strongly Boozer (and Neal) planted themselves in folks minds. Neal, for those who didn't know him, was a spec 5 who simply had an amazing empathy with Boozer and the other three dogs then in residence. If I remember right, one was killed to Neal's great grief and sadness. Boozer was primo, but Neal's love for all four critters, and theirs for him, was something special. I've seldom seen such strong emotional glue between human and animals. Boozer visited with everyone, however, and was invariably treated to chips and a bowl of beer. (How long did this dog live?) In return, he protected us. One time in the gym, I was punching up the heavy bag when furry blackness flashed in front of me, ripping the bag from it's chains. If that bag was my enemy, it was Boozer's too! He pinned the bag: Dog, 10 - bag, zero. Only time I saw him mad, although he wasn't always real fond of the other pooches. William Yund
Boozer; Don Maris
I had the honor of living on Shemya (the Rock) from October 1968 to October 1969.I was a pallbearer at Boozer's funeral. A very short background. There were two Air force and two Army pallbearers for the ceremony with an Army SFC behind the pallbearers. Many of the officers on the island showed up for the ceremony in Class A uniforms and stood to the side during the ceremony more or less at attention. We carried Boozer to the base of the flag pole and the concrete "Fire plug" and buried him there. I don't remember the names of the other pallbearers, I am the young (then) Staff Sergeant on the front right corner of the casket.
(Click thumbnail for larger image)
Click HERE for more pictures from Steve Brown
Bruce Stern, also a former resident of Shemya, provided these pictures of Boozer's funeral service:
Our thanks goes to Bruce for providing these additional pictures. You can see how much respect Boozer commanded by observing those in attendance, including many of the Officer Corp stationed on Shemya at the time. You can e-mail Bruce: e-mail Bruce
A great contributor to our Shemya web site over the years has been King Hawes. Here's a picture of Boozer and Ltc. D. Critchlow, Pilot, standing in front of Bldg 600.
Now, there's one well-fed puppy!
28 Feb 2013 09:15