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Vietnam War veteran on mission to save 50,000 dogs

CINCINNATI – The dog has always been known as man’s best friend, and for Mike Monahan that four-legged best friend ended up being a dog named Chico.

“It’s been 51 years since I left Chico behind,” said Monahan.

He said goodbye to Chico when he finished his tour of duty in the Vietnam War. They formed a patrolling team together, with Chico trained to alert the team of trigger wires.

He actually saved Monahan’s life.

“It was really a committed relationship between Chico and me for a whole year, and on top of that he saved my life, and there’s a lot of guilt that leaves him behind,” said Monahan.

Courtesy of Mike Monahan

Chico received a steak for his actions in saving Mike’s life. After Monahan left the war, Chico was one of more than 4,000 other military working dogs who were euthanized or abandoned when the war ended.

For over a year, Mike has been writing a book from Chico’s point of view called “Chico’s Promise.” It covers his life from being donated to the US Army by his original owner in South Dakota until the day Mike said goodbye in the kennel in Vietnam.

Mike read this part of the book during our discussion.

“Then one day Mike walked into 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 nothing about it, I love you man, take care of you. Goodbye Chico. Thank you for saving my life, I promise to never forget how much of a hero you are in my eyes. Then I heard a voice say, “Monahan, it’s time to go. Jeep waits, ”and just like that it was over, again I was on my own. Abandoned.”

“Writing the book with Chico’s voice gives me a whole new perspective on ending guilt,” Monahan said.

Vietnam War veteran on mission to save 50,000 dogs

WCPO staff

Now he hopes to honor Chico even further than with the book: He Wants to Save the Dogs.

“I want to be able to fundraise and then what we’ll do is team up with selected no-kill shelters,” Monahan said. “Pay the adoption fees and maybe other fees.”

He has an ambitious fundraising goal in mind: he said he wanted to save 50,000 dogs.

“A thousand a year for every year since they’ve shot him would be appropriate,” Monahan said. “If I say I’m going to save ten dogs, whatever? But if I say 50,000 dogs, I think I can get the world behind me. I want to save the dogs in his memory, I want him to be a national hero , he deserves it.

Vietnam War veteran on mission to save 50,000 dogs

WCPO staff

Those who want to help with Mike’s fundraising and learn more about Chico and Mike’s story can do so here.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, send an email to You can also join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook, and find more Homefront stories here.


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