51 years ago, U.S. Army veteran Mike Monahan finished his tour of duty during the Vietnam War. On that day, he also had to say goodbye forever to Chico, a trained Army dog on his patrol team. Chico alerted his team to tripwires and even saved Monahan’s life.
To this day, Monahan can’t help but feel guilt over leaving Chico behind. Because, not long after he hugged his friend goodbye in that kennel in Vietnam, Chico was needlessly euthanized. When the U.S. Military pulled out of Vietnam, many dogs that served met similar tragic ends.
Monahan, still devastated over the hero dog’s fate, told WCPO:
“It was really a committed relationship between Chico and I for a whole year, and on top of that, he saved my life, and there’s a lot of guilt leaving him behind.”
The Life Of A Hero Dog Told In “Chico’s Promise”
Before serving in Vietnam, Chico grew up with a family in North Carolina. As he grew, they saw his overprotective nature as aggressive and volunteered him for the U.S. Army. He was later selected to attend Scout Dog Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and upon completion of his training, was shipped out to Vietnam.
There, Monahan and Chico were partners and best friends. Still remembering Chico’s sacrifice all these years later, Monahan wrote a book from the dog’s perspective called “Chico’s Promise.” The book describes the dog’s life through his own eyes.
From the writing, it’s clear how highly Monahan thought of Chico, and how sad he is about letting him go all those years ago. One heart-wrenching excerpt from the book reads:
“Then one day Mike entered my kennel, took a knee, put his arms around me and said, ‘I love you, I love you boy. I’m sorry I can’t do anything about this, I love you boy take care of yourself. Goodbye Chico. Thanks for saving my life, I promise to never forget about what a hero you are in my eyes.’ Then I heard a voice say, ‘Monahan, time to go. Jeep’s waiting,’ and just like that it was over, once again I was all alone. Abandoned.”
The Goal: Save A Thousand Dogs For Every Year Since 1971
In addition to writing the book, Monahan hopes to save thousands of other abandoned or homeless dogs in Chico’s honor. Since he couldn’t return the favor of saving the dog’s life, he plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from “Chico’s Promise” to help rescue shelter dogs.
“I want to be able to raise money, and then what we’ll do is team up with selected no-kill shelters. Pay adoption fees and perhaps other fees.”
Remembering the brave Chico, he’s taking his pledge even further. Monahan hopes to get other people on board with his aim of saving a thousand dogs for every year since Chico was euthanized.
“A thousand per year for every year since they put him down would be appropriate. If I say I’m going to save ten dogs, who cares? But if I say 50,000 dogs, I think I can get the world behind me. I want to save dogs in his memory, I want him to be a national hero he deserves it.”
The Kickstarter Monahan started has a fundraising goal of $35,000. It has already raised more than that amount. The fundraising page’s mission states:
“This year, 2021, is the 50th anniversary of Chico needlessly being euthanized. To honor Chico and the memory of all 4500 dogs that served in Vietnam, my goal is to help save 50,000 dogs – 1000 for each year since Chico’s death, by paying for adoption fees at no-kill shelters through proceeds from the sale of “Chico’s Promise.”
Here’s to honoring those 4500 dogs who served, and who, like Chico, deserve to be remembered.