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Mars Hill Student Wins Nationwide Alpha Chi History Paper Contest

Jacob Ashley02Jacob Ashley, a senior history major at Mars Hill University, was one of 28 members of Alpha Chi Honor Society who received prizes for the best scholarly, creative or artistic presentations in their fields at the recent Alpha Chi National convention March 27-29, 2014.

Ashley, a resident of Asheboro, NC, received the Walden S. Freeman Prize in American History for his paper, titled: “A Canine Conundrum: The Treatment of Military Working Dogs in World War II and the Vietnam War.” The paper examined the very different ways that military working dogs were treated in the aftermath of World War II, versus the Vietnam War.

Jacob’s paper, and the historical research supporting it, won first place in a competition which included papers written by both undergraduate and graduate students in Alpha Chi chapters across the nation.

According to Ashley’s research, when the Vietnam conflict ended, only 200 dogs of the approximately 4000 used during the war were brought home to the United States. The remaining dogs were either euthanized or given to Vietnamese army. This is vastly different from the way dogs were treated after World War II.

“After WWII, nearly every dog that the United States still had was brought home. Those dogs were rehabilitated and adopted out to civilian homes,” Ashley said.

Ashley’s paper proposed and examined the theory that the difference in dog treatment was related to the difference in public opinion related to the two conflicts.

“During World War II, the public was very involved and interested in the war effort. The dogs were important because the war was important,” Ashley said. “But after the Vietnam conflict, the public was so tired of the war and they hated the war, so they just wanted to be done with it. Those feelings then unfortunately overflowed onto the dogs.”

Jacob received a $100 prize for his award. The cash prizes for each award were funded through discipline-specific endowments established by supporters of the society. More than 260 students made presentations at the national convention.

Alpha Chi recognizes students who have achieved a grade point average which places them in the top ten percent of the junior and senior classes at their respective institutions.