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Have you ever heard of Sergeant Stubby, the Heroic War Dog? I hadn’t until I read this story on the Berlin.Patch.com website over the weekend. Stubby was a Bulldog Terrier mix (or Pit Bull Terrier mix — sources disagree) smuggled aboard a troopship headed for France in World War I, which is probably why most people have never heard of him. He quickly became the regiment’s mascot, and served with distinction. He has the honor of being the only animal ever given a rank in the military. Here are some interesting things about Sergeant Stubby, the Heroic War Dog:
The most famous animal to emerge from the war had a strong Connecticut connection: Sgt. Stubby, a bulldog terrier with a short, stubby tail. Stubby connected with the 102nd Regiment of the 26thDivision while it was training for war on the Yale campus. Pvt. John Robert Conroy of New Britain stowed Stubby below deck on the SS Minnesota when his regiment shipped off to France. An intelligent dog, Stubby soon endeared himself to his regiment. He first entered the trenches in February of 1918 at the Battle of Chemin des Dames.
Wounded twice—once by shrapnel and once by gas—Stubby participated in 17 battles. His acute hearing allowed him to recognize incoming shells well before his human comrades could, and he would run through the trenches barking to alert his buddies. Some even maintained that he could distinguish between the sound of regular artillery and gas shells. Trained to recognize English, Stubby also was keen to locate American wounded in No Man’s Land — the area between the trenches. He would dash out there when he heard soldiers speaking English and stand near the wounded, barking until a medic arrived. One time he accosted a German soldier mapping out the American trenches. Stubby bit him and caused him to trip. American soldiers then took the German prisoner. For this heroic deed, Stubby was promoted to the rank of sergeant, the first animal ever to be given a rank in the U.S. military.
After arriving back in the states, Stubby got a lot of press attention and met with President Woodrow Wilson. He subsequently had meetings with Presidents Harding and Coolidge as well and was frequently on parade wearing a vest sewn for him by French women. On this vest were Stubby’s medals and stripes. When Conroy enrolled at Georgetown University, Stubby became the school’s mascot for a few years. He died in Conroy’s arms in 1926, the most renowned animal war hero in American history. Stubby’s remains were preserved and are still on display at “The Price of Freedom” exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. He stands today in the Smithsonian next to “Cher Ami,” the famous carrier pigeon of World War I who was responsible for helping locate the “Lost Batallion.”
Since he many times risked his life to save American lives, even biting a German, Stubby quickly gained a lot of press attention upon return to the States. He had official meetings with 3 presidents over the years. He is, even today, considered the most famous American war animal ever. Read the full story here, which includes more about other animals, then share with your friends below so they too will know about Sergeant Stubby, the Heroic War Dog.