Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

Veteran's day is to thank those who have served the militaries of our respective countries. We throw parades, hold services, and honor our warriors in many ways. But it should never be forgotten that not all veterans walk upright.



Sergeant Stubby, United States Army

No one knew when or where he was born. In common terms he was just a stray dog.

It was an early morning in 1917 at Yale Field in Connecticut. The area had been taken over by the U.S. Army for training, and a group of young soldiers was there, preparing for World War I across the Atlantic.

At some point a medium-sized dog wandered onto the field, and took an interest in the young men. They befriended each other, and Private J. Robert Conroy liked him enough to take back to their base that night.

The dog, though officially not supposed to be there, quickly became a part of the camp. He got used to the daily routine of orders and bugle calls. He even learned to salute: when he saw humans all doing it around him, he'd put his right paw on his eyebrow.

Eventually Conroy and his division were ready to ship out for the war in Europe. Rather than abandon the dog (now named Stubby) they smuggled him (under coats) aboard the troopship S.S. Minnesota for the journey across the sea.

Stubby turned out to be far more of a dog than his finders ever expected. Staying with his owners, he served in combat in France. He lived in the frontline trenches with the 26th Infantry (102nd division), for over 18 months. His first battle was in February, 1918, and overall he fought in 4 major offenses and 18 ground battles.

Frontline trench warfare is a nightmare, but Stubby, like his fellow soldiers, learned to live with it. At one point his position was under 24-hour continuous enemy gunfire and shelling for over a month. He never deserted his company or position.

In April, 1918, he was wounded by an enemy hand grenade, and sent to Red Cross facilities. While recovering he improved morale there by routinely visiting other wounded soldiers. After healing he went back to his company in the front.

Later that year he miraculously survived a gas attack in the new era of chemical warfare (though was extremely ill for several days afterward). He quickly learned to recognize the smell long before his primate colleagues could. Later, when the Germans launched another surprise gas attack in the early morning, Stubby noticed it first. He ran through the trenches, barking and even biting his comrades to waken them so they could put on their masks. Since there were no gas mask to fit him, after spreading the alert he'd run out of range behind the trench and wait there until the all-clear was sounded.

His keen ears could hear the high-pitched whine of incoming shells before humans could, and his warning barks gave his friends an extra few precious seconds to take cover.

Stubby - of his own accord - undertook some of the most dangerous missions of the war, searching no-mans-land between trenches for wounded soldiers. He could differentiate between English and German speech, and successfully led medical teams to the injured. He also was able to lead dazed, but walking, soldiers back to safety. How many lives he saved is unknown.

Later, Stubby and his men were deployed to the battle of Argonne Forest. There, while walking around on his own, he single-handedly caught a German spy that had slipped behind allied lines to map their formations. Stubby detected him behind a bush, raised the alarm, and then detained him (by holding onto the back of his pants) until 2-legged soldiers could arrive.

For his remarkable heroism and skills, the commanding officer of the 102nd division recommended him for promotion, and Stubby became Sergeant Stubby - now outranking his owner, Corporal Conroy.

Stubby's remarkable skills extended beyond the battlefield. During a visit to Paris with Corporal Conroy, Stubby suddenly dashed out into traffic and saved a young girl who was about to be struck by a car.

After allied forces liberated the town of Ch√Ęteau-Thierry, the local women made him a chamois coat. It kept him warm and was also used for his growing collection of medals, including the Purple Heart.

After the armistice, Corporal Conroy returned home with his friend. Stubby was now a celebrity, routinely leading parades. He met 3 Presidents and was made a life member of the American Foreign Legion and Red Cross. In one instance he received a distinguished service award, presented by no less than the fabled American General, John "Blackjack" Pershing.



Sergeant Stubby leading a victory parade. His heart was bigger than his body!


As the cheers faded the pair transitioned back to civilian life. Conroy enrolled in Georgetown law school, and Stubby found employment as the team's mascot. He often performed a football halftime show, pushing a ball around the field.

He died on March 16, 1926, with Conroy holding him. He is remembered by a brick at the World War I memorial and at the Smithsonian. The latter has his remains on display.



 
Thank you, veterans!




31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, veterans, both the two legged and four legged kind, for your service.

Since we are on the topic of animals today, I would also like to give a shout out to all the four legged law enforcement officers out there. They are also deserving of our appreciation.

Officer Cynical said...

With a father and two uncles who were WWII combat vets, my fixation has always been on "The Greatest Generation". Some stats on those folks (condensed from Wikipedia):

16,112,566 individuals were members of the US armed forces during WWII. There were 291,557 battle deaths, 113,842 other deaths in service, and 670,846 non-mortal woundings. In Nov 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that approximately 1,711,000 American veterans (10%) were still living.

During WWII, 464 US military personnel received the Medal of Honor, 266 posthumously. As of March 3, 2012, there were 12 living WWII Medal of Honor recipients.

Approximately 850 American WWII vets die every day. The median age for a WWII veteran in Feb 2009 was 86 years.

Jen said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. What a hero that little dog was. We often forget how many of our animal friends are involved in dangerous careers, and they deserve a little bit of attention too, sometimes.

Anonymous said...

What a great story. Did Conroy have to salute Stubby because Stubby outranked him?

Crazy RxMan said...

Thank you for "pawsing" to reflect on this four-legged hero.

Mama D said...

What a fabulous story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

bobbie said...

Thanks to ALL veterans ~ and to you, IBG, for the great story ~

lynda t said...

As usual with any brave animal story my shirt's soaked with tears...

Anonymous said...

Dr Grumpy, in the Harry Potter books everyone celebrated Christmas, including Dumbledore. So they're all Christians, which I always thought peculiar. Maybe Jesus was a wizard or something.

Cape Cod Step-Mom said...

I'm a sucker for this stuff.....a little teary

Cape Cod Step-Mom said...

Thanks Grumpy...as a dog lover & a cry baby over patriotic stories this really did me in.

RehabRN said...

Great story, Grumpy!

I have an in-law with the same last name as Stubby's owner.

Maybe a long lost relative? If not, their kids will enjoy the story about this dog.

Every day is Veteran's Day for me. I like them so much I married one!

Thank you all for your service, and for all the veterans who gave all, we remember, freedom isn't free.

Thanks for picking up my tab!

FireCap5 said...

Thanks for the great story Doc!! This Disabled Veteran got a kick out of it!

To Sgt. Stubby, SEMPER FI,from a Devil Dog!!

Pity you weren't in the Corps!

Anonymous said...

Love the story. Love that the humans involved outwitted (or outran) the inevitable red tape involved with an active duty dog. Met a vet collecting for the VFW today. A good thing for my youngin' to see. He had his pup with him- a mutt who got the worst of all his varied ancestries. Looked a bit like Sargeant Stubby and was clearly loyal. Was an honor to thank him for his service.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

Packer said...

Dogs are incredible creatures. And this is an incredible story, I had heard this one before. Simply wonderful. I marvel at the senses they have.

Anonymous said...

One, amazing story about a wartime dog. They really are man's best friend. Two, I may have just discovered where my school's mascot really originally came from... you have no idea how excited I am.

taradon said...

What an awesome story. Thanks for sharing it!

Nurse Kitty said...

Love your war time stories Doc, you always find the ones that go straight to the heart and remind us off all the heroes that time has forgotten.

Thank you

Taryn said...

I love your history lessons! This one especially, as I am a serious dog person!

Nurse K said...

Good dog.

quixote said...

This is far and away the best veteran's story I have read.

Thanks!

MDaisy said...

Thank you for remembering all our veterans both human and canine.

Sure sounds like Sgt. Stubby was a real trooper and a good friend to all in need.

Anonymous said...

My eyes appear to be wet. Must be dusty. *cough*

Ms. Donna said...

Love the stories. Do some research on "Chesty."

Anonymous said...

Do you happen to know what Smithsonian? I frequent some of them due to my proximity to DC and haven't seen a display on this but would like to as I'm sure my kiddo would.

Anonymous said...

Love that he was a Pitbull mix!! Sad how people look down on the breed now!!

caffeine72 said...

I love this. I highly recommend the WWI Memorial museum for everyone who comes close to KC. It's an amazing and gut-wrenching experience that I never tire of.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this! I love your history blogs!
Heather

Petunia said...

So he not only was a war hero, he invented the football halftime show! :)

Anonymous said...

Love this story - thank you so much, Grumpy!

Although I'm a knit-your-own-lentils pacifist, I come from a (UK) Armed Services family have tremendous respect for anybody and everybody who lays, or potentially lays down their life in defence of their country - human AND animal.

This story makes me want to be a better person.

 
Locations of visitors to this page