HOUSTON (UPI) – A one-time U.S. Marine hero who fought his way through the jungles of Bougainville alongside the famed war dog Caesar was found dead in his parked car here Wednesday [May 11, 1960].
He was Rufus Mayo, about 39, of Montgomery, Ala. He had been living in Houston several months.
Dr. Joseph A. Jachimczyk, Harris County pathologist, said the cause of death was acute alcoholism.
Mayo served with the Second Raider Battalion during World War II and was the handler of the German Shepherd known as Caesar.
The canine was the first war dog to be wounded in combat.
The dog saved Mayo’s life shortly after the Marine Corps invasion of Bougainville when a Japanese soldier attempted to sneak up on the sleeping Marine.
Mayo, according to news reports published shortly afterwards, killed the attacking Japanese and slew a sniper who wounded Caesar.
Police said Mayo had been working at odd jobs in Houston and wasn’t employed at the time of his death.
Mayo enlisted in the Marines on Dec. 16, 1941. He was assigned as a handler attached to the First Marine Dog Platoon.
By 1943 he was a veteran of the fighting in the Pacific.
During the time he was in the Marines his mother–who funeral home workers say is dead—kept an elaborate scrapbook of newspaper clippings on the war, her son and his dog.
The scrapbook was found in the home of one of Mayo’s friends, funeral home workers said.
The scrapbook gave no indication of what happened to Caesar after the war.
Dick C. Vogle of Houston told police he and Mayo drank together Tuesday night. Vogle said he left Mayo sleeping in the back seat of the ex-Marine’s car.
When the auto was still in front of Vogle’s house Wednesday morning, he investigated and found Mayo dead.
Mayo’s survivors include a brother, Leonard Mayo of Slidell, La., and a sister, Mrs. Gertrude Farmer of Montgomery, Ala.