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Nemo - Hero Dog of War



Hero Dog of War


Died: December 1972

Burial: DoD Dog Center


Airman 2nd class Bob Thorneburg and his K9 Nemo were assigned duty near an old Vietnamese graveyard about a quarter mile from the air base's runway. No sooner had they started their patrol, Nemo alerted on something in the cemetery. But before Thorneburg could radio the CSC, that "something" opened fire.


Thorneburg released his dog and then charged firing into the enemy. Nemo was shot and wounded, the bullet entering under his right eye and exited through his mouth. Thorneburg, killed one VC before he too was shot in the shoulder and knocked to the ground.

That might have been the sad end of the story, but Nemo refused to give in without a fight. Ignoring his serious head wound, the 85-pound dog threw himself at the Viet Cong guerrillas who had opened fire. Nemo's ferocious attack brought Thorneburg the time he needed to call in backup forces.

A Quick Reaction Team arrived and swept the area but found no other Viet Cong. However, security forces using additional sentry dog teams, located and killed four more Viet Cong. A second sweep with the dog teams resulted in discover of four more Viet Cong who were hiding underground. They too were killed.

Although severely wounded, Nemo crawled to his master and covered him with his body. Even after help arrived Nemo would not allow anyone to touch Thorneburg. Finally separated, both were taken back to the base for medical attention. Thorneburg was wounded a second time on the return to the base.


Lt. Raymond Hutson, the base Vet, worked diligently to save Nemo's life. It required many skin grafts to restore the animal's appearance. Nemo was blind in one eye but when well enough, was put back on perimeter duty. He ended up needing further treatment.

On June 23, 1967 Air Force headquarters directed that Nemo be returned to the US with honors as the first sentry dog to be officially retired from active service.


Thorneburg had to be evacuated to the hospital at Tachikawa Air Base in Japan to recuperate. The handler and the dog who saved his life said their final goodbye. Nemo spent his retirement at the Department of Defense Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas. He was given a permanent kennel near the veterinary facility.


Nemo died December 1972 at Lackland AFB shortly before the Christmas Holiday. After a failed attempt to preserve his remains, the Vietnam War Hero was lay to rest on March 15, 1973 at the DoD Dog Center at the age of 11. War Dogs were dedicated and were an asset to our fighting men. We honor Nemo for his service to his country and for saving countless lives. May you rest in peace.


Author Unknown