Guadalcanal Hero Buried at the Michigan War Dog Memorial in Lyon Township

He was a Marine scout and messenger that survived the perils of warfare on Guadalcanal and Okinawa.

In 2010 when I got involved with the Michigan War Dog Memorial (formerly known as Happy Hunting Grounds Memorial Park Cemetery) I kept hearing stories about a Doberman Pinscher, that was buried at the base of the granite memorial. 

Jane Purslow Historian and Photographer from New Hudson, MI brought me the following newspaper archives that further supported the stories.

(Livingston County Press) (Thursday, July 18, 1946) 

"Will Dedicate Monument to War Dogs on  August 4, 1946."  

""The most celebrated dog buried at Happy Hunting Grounds Memorial Park cemetery is “Blizzard,” one of Admiral Byrd’s lead dogs.  The animal was at the Chicago World Fair then was sold to Windsor people, and died in 1937 at 12 years of age.  His Antarctic experiences had brought on heart trouble.  The oldest dog buried in the cemetery was 22 ½ years old.

A parrot that was on Admiral Dewey’s flagship is buried in this cemetery.  Detroiters owned him when he died at 86 years.  (Parrots usually live to be around 150).""

(Detroit Free Press) (Norman Kenyon 1950) 

"Pets Live on in Memory" which mentions the 1946 dedication of the 16-ton granite tribute to dogs in military service and that Sparks was present at this dedication. 

""A year later, someone poisoned Sgt. Sparks near his Rochester home.  His master requested that he be buried “wrapped only in a blanket, like so many of his buddies at the beaches.”"

(South Lyon Herald) (Thursday, March 16, 1961) 

"Guadalcanal Hero Buried"  that said he was a Marine scout and messenger that survived the perils of warfare on Guadalcanal and Okinawa.

These stories also stated that Sparks "distinguished himself under combat becoming a war hero decorated with seven citations.

So, having an inquiring mind I wanted to separate fact from fiction especially since I have yet to find Admiral Byrd’s lead dog “Blizzard,” nor Admiral Dewey’s Parrot but I do know where SGT. Sparks is buried...I just wasn't sure of his exploits so I wrote to the National Archives & Records Administration in College Park, Maryland to get verification.

They sent me a plethora of information:

First and foremost they sent The Marine Dog Service Book for "Sparks" Serial Number 49.

Date of Birth:  August 15, 1939

Breed:  Doberman Pinscher (Red)

Sex:  Male

Joined the U.S. Marine Corps March 23, 1943

Notes on Training:  Sparks is a good big sound dog with a happy go lucky personality.  "He is the clown of the Platoon."

Sparks Serial Number 49 was attached to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion 1st Marine Raider Regiment that survived Bougainville (part of the Solomon Islands chain. As a result, the campaign is referred to as part of both the New Guinea and the Solomon Islands campaigns.) Sparks arrived in Guadalcanal in 1-14-1944 and arrived in Okinawa 4-1-1945 and then Guam on 7-14-1945. Returned to his owner in Rochester, MI April 30, 1946

The Michigan War Dog Memorial is located at Eleven Mile and Milford Road in Lyon Township.


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