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Happy Memorial Day: Special Thanks to War Dogs of the Past

May 26, 2017


On this Memorial Day, we would like to acknowledge all who have served and are serving in the United States military. These brave men and women have dedicated their lives to serve our country – and for that we are thankful. We would also like to shine a light on many of the special dogs that served the country during war times.



Another World War II veteran, Chips, was a Collie, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky mix. Chips is the most decorated American military dog of World War II. He was deployed to fight in Germany, France, Italy, and North Africa. Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart for his heroic act in taking down an Italian machine gun nest in 1943 during the invasion of Sicily. This led to the enemy’s surrender. Unfortunately, his awards were later revoked because policy did not allow for dogs to be recognized with such awards.  Regardless, Chips was praised highly for his courage.



The most recent military dog in our list is Lucca. Lucca served in the Marines for eight years as a search dog trained to find explosives. She served under two handlers, Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham and Corporeal Juan Rodriguez. She served two deployments to Iraq with Sergeant Willingham over the course of five years. According to Sergeant Willingham, every patrol she led resulted in zero injuries of her fellow Marines or soldiers. She saved countless lives because of her keen sense of smell, training, and intelligence. When not on patrol, she played with the other dogs and gave a lot of comfort to the troops. In 2012, during her third deployment to Afghanistan, she was injured by a roadside bomb. Her handler, Corporeal Juan Rodriguez, immediately applied a tourniquet and both were air evacuated. Lucca lost her right leg but survived and was walking again in three weeks. After eight years of service, Lucca went to retire with Sergeant Willingham’s family to rest and play to her heart’s content.



Nemo was a German Shepherd trained to be a sentry (guard) dog during World War II. He served in Vietnam with his handler, Airman Second Class Bob Thorneburg. The two formed a very deep bond. One night when Thorneburg and Nemo were on patrol, four gunmen attacked them. Thorneburg was shot in the shoulder. Nemo was shot in the eye and the bullet exited through his mouth. Nemo charged the enemy giving Thorneburg enough time to call for reinforcements before he fell unconscious. It is recorded that Nemo covered Thornesburg’s body with his own and would not let anyone touch him. Both received medical treatment and survived. 



Sallie was a brindle Staffordshire Terrier that fought in the Civil War. She was given to 1st Lieutenant William R. Terry when she was only 4 weeks old, and grew up following the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. She followed soldiers into battle and was often seen charging on the front lines. She participated in battles, drills, and even parades. It is said that as Sallie marched with the regiment, President Lincoln lifted his hat in salute to her as she passed by him. During the battle of Gettysburg, Sallie became separated from her regiment. She was found three days later guarding the bodies of the wounded and deceased on the battlefield. She was later reunited with her regiment but sadly killed by a bullet in battle. So loved was Sallie that even in the midst of battle, several soldiers stopped fighting to bury her right away. The veterans of the 11th would later go on to erect a monument of Sallie at Gettysburg to remember her spirit and bravery. 



Heroes come in all sizes. The small, but fierce, 4-pound Yorkshire Terrier named Smokey is proof. Smokey was from a New Guinea jungle when American soldier Bill Wynn adopted her during World War II. She used her keen sense of hearing to alert soldiers of incoming artillery shells. And in one of her more daring heroic acts, Bill Wynn tied a telegraph wire to her collar. Smokey then traveled through a narrow 70-foot culvert. Bill ended up teaching Smoky over 200 tricks and together they would entertain their fellow soldiers.

Sergeant Stubby


Don’t forget to acknowledge his rank! Stubby is the only American war dog given the rank of sergeant and it was well deserved. Perhaps the most famous of the war dogs, Stubby was an American pit adopted by Corporal John Robertson during World War I. Stubby followed his owner to France (smuggled, really) and joined alongside troops in 17 battles! He alerted soldiers of gas attacks, detected a German spy hiding in the trenches, and found injured and deceased soldiers on the battlefield.    

Happy Memorial Day!

We hope you have a wonderful day with loved ones. We’d like to thank veterans and active military for their service to our country.   

Category: Pet News