In the 1940s, there was a newspaper called Barksdale's Bark, which provided Barksdale Field news. On Jan. 23, 1943, the article, "Flying Mascot Has Parachute in Case he has to Bail Out," announced, "Salvo, the only flying dog at Barksdale, has a parachute."
According to the article, "Lt. Hugh Fletcher named the pup after its first plane ride. Pilot J.W. Wright had done a few maneuvers and was taxiing in when the crew noticed the little fox terrier was moving unsteadily toward the door. After the B-26 stopped, the billious [sic] pup scrambled out and heaved a mixture of chewing gum, waste paper and candy. It was then Lt. Fletcher decided he should be called 'Salvo.'" (The definition of salvo is a simultaneous discharge of artillery.)
Tech. Sgt. Glen Schultz designed Salvo's parachute out of spare materials. The parachute had a 50-inch canopy with a static line for positive opening if he should have to bail out. When Salvo was to jump, Lt. Fletcher fixed one end of the parachute cord to the plane, and when he jumps and begins to descend, his weight pulled the cord and opened the release mechanism.
|Source: Imperial War Museum; Roger Freeman Collection Id: FRE 1184. http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/907.|
If you are wondering if Salvo had his own "dog tags," the answer is yes. His official serial number was 000000.
In July of 1944, Lt. Fletcher was interviewed while in London, and during the interview, he told of Salvo's bravery and was sad to report that he was, at that time, "missing in action." Before going MIA, Salvo met Duchess, the mascot for another Air Corps crew, and fathered a litter of future heroes.
It appears that Salvo was perhaps reunited with his crew and continued to serve until the war ended. According to Nigel Cawthorne, author of Canine Commandoes, "By May 1945, Salvo had clocked up more than five hundred hours in the air..."
As you can imagine, being the first parachuting dog made Salvo famous around the world. His story, along with pictures of him parachuting, appeared in newspapers throughout the nation. In one Akron, OH newspaper, the article stated that "The fliers say Salvo is chockfull of the stuff that heroes are made of." And a citation that accompanied an award Salvo received asserts, "His sheer doggedness while under fire and his loyalty to Lt. Fletcher and the United States Air Force reflect great credit on himself."
By: Amy Robertson