Memorial Day: Animals Among War Heroes Celebrated

Discussion Topic Created:
Monday, May 25, 2015
As the US celebrates Memorial Day , a day of remembrance for those who lost their lives in service for the nation, let’s not forget the brave animals who have also played their parts in war efforts throughout the years.
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As Paw Nation points out: "Not all war heroes are humans. Animals have been part of military service since ancient times."

In America, one of the most decorated animals is a dog named Sgt. Stubby, who served in 17 World War I battles and was awarded several medals, including the Purple Heart.

Sgt Stubby began his career in 1917 with the 102nd Infantry 26th (Yankee) Division after America entered the war. The pit bull terrier provided morale boosts, delivered early warnings of gas attacks and woke sleeping sentry to alert them to German attack. He was once injured in the foreleg by a grenade as he patrolled the trenches.

In the Argonne, Sgt Stubby flushed out a German spy by holding onto the seat of his trousers until soldiers arrived to capture him, reports the Connecticut Military Department.

Sgt Stubby died in in 1926 in his owner’s arms after being smuggled back to the US following his time in France. He is stuffed and on display in The Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Dolphins are also stars among the US Navy, with a bottlenose named K-Dog earning a name for his ability to locate underwater mines.

While the US has no official animals award scheme, Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals has been awarding the Dickin Medal to acknowledge outstanding acts of bravery displayed by animals serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units in any theatre of war, worldwide.

The bronze medallion is inscribed with “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” and is seen as an animal equivalent to Britain's Victoria Cross.

In 2012, Treo the Labrador was awarded the medal for recognition of his help uncovering a series of Taliban bombs during his time serving in Helmand Province, in 2008, AP reported.

Treo’s canine courage decoration took place in London’s Imperial War Museum and made him the 18th dog to receive the award, since its inception in 1943.

Other animals to have received the medal include 32 pigeons – mostly for delivering messages during the Second World War and its aftermath.

A commendation for “Winkie” praised the pigeon: “For delivering a message under exceptionally difficult conditions and so contributing to the rescue of an Air Crew while serving with the RAF in February, 1942.”

Three horses and a cat were also recipients of the award. The feline in question, Simon, was honoured after his death in 1949, for his efforts while serving on the HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident, where he disposed of many rats despite being wounded by shell blast.

The commendation adds: “Throughout the incident his behaviour was of the highest order, although the blast was capable of making a hole over a foot in diameter in a steel plate.”

We salute you!

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