| The Dunn Family Portrait, with Corporal Derek
| Major Frank Dunn
| Priscilla Dunn
In 2007, a chance encounter at Hillside Acre Animal Cemetery between Dave Gordon, Properties Manager for the MSPCA at Nevins Farm and Hillside Acre, and Warren MacDonald, shed light on the history of one of the cemetery’s most notable figures. Warren MacDonald was visiting the cemetery to see the gravesite of a dog known to him through his father’s stories, Corporal Derek Dunn. MacDonald’s father had served during WWII with his cousin, Staff Sargent Frank Dunn, Derek’s owner.
Through this meeting, a correspondence developed between Dave Gordon and the Dunn Family. Letters, photos, and postcards exchanged with Priscilla Dunn detailed how Corporal Derek came to enlist in the US Marine Corps, serving his country, before succumbing to heartworm disease in 1952. It was this correspondence that was the impetus for the MSPCA’s War Dog Memorial at Hillside Acre Animal Cemetery.
Derek, a young Doberman, had enlisted thanks to his owners, Staff Sargent Frank Dunn of the 740th Field Artillery Battalion based at Fort Jackson, and Dunn’s wife, Priscilla Dunn, who broadcast a successful radio show called ‘The Army Wife’. Derek’s service began in 1942 with basic training at Camp Le Jeune, and afterwards spent his days in a miniature barracks next to Frank’s. Derek served a 15 month tour of duty in the Pacific, at Guadalcanal, during which he was wounded twice, and ultimately was promoted to the rank of Corporal.
After the war, Corporal Derek was returned to his family, and lived the remainder of his days actively engaged in community activities, until his passing of heartworm disease contracted while in the service. According to records, Corporal Derek was the first War Dog honored with a military funeral, at Hillside Acre Animal Cemetery.
Click here to read Priscilla’s first letter to Dave Gordon, sharing Derek’s story.
Click here to read several subsequent notes and postcards from Priscilla on their life with Derek.