(The Story of A Little Dog, Rescued from the Pusan Perimeter War Zone

By Burl E. Gilliland, CAPT, USNR, Retired

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Dozo with EN1 Murphy on USS Heron in North Korean waters. Summer '51
Some time during late 1950, when the North Koreans had overrun South Korea, except for the "Pusan Perimeter," some sailors on the USS HERON (AMS-18) rescued a small yellow dog that was almost starved. As I heard the story, the dog had somehow escaped the multitude of starving and destitute South Koreans who, at that time, because of the dire circumstances, would probably have eaten the dog in order to survive themselves. The sailors took the dog on board their ship, hid her below decks, and fed and nurtured her back to health. The sailors feared that the skipper of the ship,
DIXON LADEMAN, would make them put the dog ashore if he discovered the dog on board the ship. But, alas, the frisky canine was all over the ship, and everyone, including the skipper, accepted and loved the little dog. She became the beloved mascot of the USS HERON (AMS-18). The sailors had intended to beg the commanding officer to PLEASE, PLEASE let them keep the dog. But when they discovered that both the skipper and the exec (JAY J. VERMILYA) also loved the dog, they immediately named the dog DOZO. They said that DOZO is the word for "PLEASE" in Japanese

Dozo and ENS Gilliland off coast of North Korea, Feb. 1951

Dozo jumping for a raw potato held by EN3 Maerten. Potatoes were her favorite food.
I reported aboard the USS HERON at Pusan in January of 1951. My main assignment was as Engineering Officer. But because the AMS type ships had only 4 officers, I had a multitude of collateral assignments. So I immediately became acquainted with DOZO, and accepted her as one of the crew. DOZO was often on the flying bridge, in the pilot house, in the radio shack, in the crews quarters, in the small wardroom, in both engine rooms—in short she was all over the ship. She slept with the sailors in the crews quarters. She was well fed and well cared for.
DOZO was there during the times we swept and exploded mines. She witnessed our getting shelled by shore batteries many times as we swept close to the North Korean shores. She braved storms at sea. She withstood sub-zero weather on the open decks during minesweeping operations. She loved and respected every person on that ship. She exuded happiness everywhere she went. She loved life and provided joy in others lives. DOZO was more than pleasing: she was a blessing! Everyone on board had some sort of camera. DOZO was probably photographed more than any

person aboard that ship. I must say that she got us through many crises, depressive moments, and monotonous periods. I am sure that few people can comprehend how much DOZO meant to that

Dozo and RM1 Harbert aboard USS Heron AMS 18 at sea enroute from Korea to Sasebo, Japan. Dozo is sitting in the Captain's chair
crew of minesweeping sailors and officers on that ship during the fury of the Korean War.

When I departed the USS HERON in Korean waters in the early spring of 1952 (with orders to be engineering officer of the USS BROADBILL (AM-58) in San Diego and later Charleston, SC) DOZO, was still there, faithfully providing comfort and companionship to every man on the HERON. I often wonder what happened to that marvelous pooch. Now, after over 50 years, the only tangible artifacts I have are a few old, black and white photographs of DOZO with crew members. Oh, but I still have my fond memories.

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Photographs by Burl Gilliland, Ens, USNR

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