|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 Château-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.