Leonard Foulk

A soldier looks at a German Shepard dog sitting in his lap
Sergeant Leonard Foulk with his best pal, Blondie
In May of 1943, 26-year old Sergeant Leonard Foulk stepped ashore on the Aleutian Island of Attu. Over the next week he and his unit made their way across the cold, windswept island. They followed a high ridge towards the Japanese position.

That morning, Sgt. Foulk found himself on a high ridge overlooking several Japanese machine gunners. Using his binoculars, he called out the location of the machine gun emplacements to his own unit.

I took the binoculars and continued to observe the enemy positions, when — Bang! a bullet knocked me down, and I was through—. The shot, in addition to knocking me down, shattered my binoculars, as well as my eyes...

The soldiers with Sgt. Foulk quickly dressed his wounds and slid him down the mountain. He received further care from medics and the field hospital. The Battle of Attu ended 24 hours later.

Nothing has changed. Everything is just as it was before, only you can't see.

Twelve days later Leonard arrived to Letterman General Hospital at the Presidio of San Francisco. At Letterman, Sgt. Foulk received care for his injuries. Leonard had lost his sight in both eyes. As he recovered, Leonard joined a new program designed to provide mobility dogs for servicemen blinded in WWII. Although he was in the third class ever held by this organization, he was the first veteran to graduate. Leonard was paired with a German Shepard named Blondie. Blondie was a shelter dog specifically trainded as a guide dog for the blind.

I felt close to this dog that was to be my very own. “Blondie’’ became my roommate... We began to work in the larger cities where there were revolving doors to conquer—elevators, and up and down long flights of steps. In short, any place we might wish to go. Hazards and obstacles were especially picked out for us, and my ‘‘Blondie” knew how to negotiate them all.

In the weeks to come, Sgt. Foulk learned to navigate the world without the aid of his sight. He learned how to fold bills to identify their denominations. And he learned to navigate the world around him through touch, sound and with the aid of his best pal, Blondie.

In 1944, Sgt. Foulk was awarded with a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star at the Presidio.

Aleutian Islands World War II National Historic Area, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Presidio of San Francisco

Last updated: August 12, 2021