Cody, Wyoming’s Veterans Park has a new feature honoring military K9’s and their handlers.
The War Dog Monument was unveiled Saturday after months of work by sculptor John Phelps. Phelps is a Dubois-area native but has recently moved to Cody. He’s also the father of Chance Phelps, a United States Marine who died while serving in Iraq. Chance’s story inspired the movie, ‘Taking Chance.’
Phelps along with Cody’s Veterans Park Foundation members, a local VFW color guard, United States Senator John Barrasso, Representatives from the offices of Liz Cheney and Mike Enzi, and dozens of spectators were on hand for the unveiling, despite chilly weather conditions.
The statue to honor war dogs was inspired by K9, Major Mike, who served two tours of duty in Iraq with Special Operations Sgt. Matthew Bessler. Bessler retired from the military and now resides in the Powell, Wyoming area. In 2015, Major Mike was shot and killed in an incident with a man riding a bicycle near their home. No charges were filed in the incident.
Foundation members say the project idea received donations from nearly 2,000 individuals.
This is one of just four memorials in the United States currently honoring military dogs and their handlers.