March 17, 2017
Ever since World War II, our four-legged heroes have been with our beloved soldiers in helping to defend and protect the country. Despite the valiant efforts and having to endure the wounds of war to protect the lives of several civilians and soldiers, our military service dogs were not awarded any official medals of honor by the US Government.
Since 1944, our canine heroes were awarded a Purple Heart or Silver Star for their bravery. But the medals were not presented to the military service dogs by the Department of Defense. These valiant dogs were only honored informally by the soldiers - who served alongside them - with donated medals.
Credit: Paws for Purple Hearts
Awarding of Purple Heart or Silver Star began from Chips, the most decorated war dog during World War II. A German Shepherd, Collie and Husky mix, Chips was enlisted into service by his owner in August 1942. Chips was one of around 1,000 pet dogs that are trained to work as sentries, messengers, and mine detection dogs. With his handler, Pvt. John Rowell, Chips was shipped out in early 1943 and had been a part of a major campaign called Operation Torch. He was even one of the three dogs that were assigned to guard duty during the Roosevelt/Churchill conference at Casablanca.
The commanding officer of the platoon that Chips was assigned to, suggested that he be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his “courageous action in single-handedly eliminating a dangerous machine gun nest and causing surrender of its crew.” General Truscott waived the regulation of the Wars Department against giving medals to animals, and personally pinned a Distinguished Service Cross to Chip’s collar.
Meanwhile, William Thomas, a Purple Heart national commander, complained to President Roosevelt, an adjutant general of the U.S. Army, and the secretary of war, that giving awards meant for humans to a dog was an insult. Congress even got involved, and in the end, they decided to strip Chips of his medals. After public outcry regarding this matter, Major General James Ulio decided that Chips could keep his medals. Though from that point onwards, no specific medal honors are created for our military dogs.
In 2016, a British animal charity has given its top award for bravery to a U.S. military service dog. The PDSA Dickin Medal, the highest award any animal can receive while serving in military conflict, was awarded to Lucca, a German shepherd, which completed 400 missions in six years of active service with allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and losing a leg on the battlefield. The Dickin Medal is recognized worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross.
Credit: New York Daily News
Lucca’s handler Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Willingham had been deployed to Iraq twice with Lucca, after training her for more than a year. In 2012, Lucca lost her leg and suffered severe chest burns after discovering an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Willingham said, "She had her surgery, and amazingly within 10 days she was walking around again, and the best part is that she has the same personality as she had before the blast.”
Credit: USMC Life
Last July 2016, American Humane, which has worked with the U.S. military for 100 years, and internationally renowned veterans advocate and philanthropist Lois Pope, awarded four brave military service dogs the inaugural American Humane Lois Pope LIFE K-9 Medal of Courage at a Capitol Hill ceremony.
Contract Working Dog Fieldy
An athletic black Labrador Retriever, CWD Fieldy, had served four combat tours in Afghanistan. He had worked to detect deadly explosives that were hidden from plain view and buried underground. His great skills of tracking down said explosives had surely saved several lives.Besides his courageous service, Fieldy also had a life-changing impact on one Marine: U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Nick Caceres, who is also his wartime comrade for seven months in Afghanistan. Fieldy offered vital emotional support to him, providing him with steadfast companionship, and a sense of normalcy—which is important in a time of unimaginable stress. (Photo Credit: theddocfoundation)
Military Working Dog Isky
Alongside his handler and best friend, U.S. Army Sgt. Wess Brown, Military Working Dog Isky (a regal German Shepherd), spent years protecting our armed forces and American leaders. They work side-by-side in safeguarding four-star American generals, from the Secretary of State in Africa to the President of the United States in Berlin.
Credit: Military Trader
Isky found five deadly IEDs and 10 weapon caches during his time stationed in the Middle East. During a routine perimeter check, MWD Isky lead the team to discover an IED buried nearly two feet underground which turned out to be a 120-pound bomb that could produce a devastating explosion.
In one instance of combat patrol, Isky got injured in 6 places. One leg had to be amputated due to so much trauma and nerve damage, which forced him to retire from active military service. Now even with three legs, Isky still continues to offer lifesaving support to our armed forces, as he also serves now as Sgt. Brown’s PTSD service dog.
Military Working Dog Bond
The toll of combat affected Bond and his handler, and they both suffer anxiety. Today, Bond continues to offer him his unconditional support today, simply as his best friend. With the help of American Humane, his handler adopted Bond and said being reunited with his canine companion will help ease his reentry back into civilian life. Bond, a valiant Belgian Malinois, was deployed to Afghanistan three times and worked more than 50 combat missions. As a Multi-Purpose dog, he used his agility and keen senses to keep our troops safe. Besides his skills, this brave dog forged an unbreakable bond with his handler whose name was not revealed for security reasons. (Photo Credit: Military Trader)
Military Working Dog Matty
Military Working Dog Matty, a Czech German Shepherd, worked alongside his handler Retired Army Specialist Brent Grommet, as part of the bomb-detection team when they were both stationed in Afghanistan. They worked day and night to search for hidden bombs that could spell death to the people in the area.
Specialist Grommet says Matty saved his life, and the lives of everyone his unit, more than once. He noted that while they were searching in a bazaar for IEDs, their unit walked into an ambush. They took casualties during that firefight. Matty and Brent raced to clear a helicopter landing zone of IEDs while taking direct mortar fire. They were hit with a Rocket-propelled grenade while engaging with the enemy, knocking both of them unconscious which gave Brent a traumatic brain injury that both of them suffered. They were flown back to the United States for treatment.
Grommet and Matty were separated but finally, with the help of American Humane, these two Battle Buddies were brought back together. Until now, Matty continues to offer lifesaving help to Brent through this adversity.
These military service dogs, along with other four-legged heroes, put their lives on the line for their country and for their fellow soldiers. These compassionate canines truly deserve great honors.
March 24, 2017
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