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Construction begins on Hero Dog Park

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Hero Dog Park will be the first dog park in the northern part of Lawrence Township

Construction has begun on Hero Dog Park at Hamnett Park on Ohio Avenue.

Work crews have started to install a path around the perimeter of the park. The dog park will have two fenced-in areas – one for small dogs and one for large dogs.

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Each fenced-in area will have shade structures, benches, waste disposal stations, dog-friendly water fountains and other dog park features, said Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski.

When it is completed, Hero Dog Park will be the second dog park in Lawrence Township – and the first one in the southern part of the township. There is a dog park at Village Park in the northern part.

Superintendent of Recreation Nancy Bergen suggested naming it “Hero Dog Park” after reading an article in The Lawrence Ledger written by the late James Hewitt in 1995. Hewitt, who died in 2012, was a World War II veteran and was present during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Hewitt, who was a retired Lawrence Township police officer, wrote that when he was stationed on a small island in the South Pacific, he befriended a captured German shepherd that had been trained as a war dog by the Japanese army. The dog was adopted by Hewitt and his U.S. Army unit, who named him Moose.

Hewitt wrote that he and Moose developed a bond that lasted until Hewitt was transferred to Hawaii for jungle training school. He had to leave the dog behind.

Moose was later transferred to a U.S. Army base to attend K-9 training school. Moose entered the U.S. Army and served alongside American soldiers.

Hewitt kept track of Moose, hoping to be reunited with the dog after the war. But Moose was killed in June 1945 when he leaped on a hand grenade to protect his handler. The hand grenade was tossed toward Moose and his handler by two Japanese soldiers they had discovered hiding in the grass.

Hewitt received a letter from the Central Pacific Base Command that explained how Moose died. The dog knew the hand grenade was a weapon and he jumped on it as it exploded. The dog saved his handler’s life, the letter said.

“Somewhere on the Pacific Island of Okinawa (Japan) where Moose died, there is a grave marked ‘Moose, U.S. Army K-9 Corps, Army Serial Number OX-79, killed in action against the enemy June 20, 1945,'” Hewitt wrote in the newspaper article.

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