Last weekend was Memorial Day. And in remembrance of our heroes, I would like to salute Sergeant Stubby.
Sergeant Stubby was probably the most famous canine hero of World War I. He was an American pit bull terrier who served with the 102nd infantry in the French trenches for 18 months and 17 battles. During his first year, he was injured by mustard gas. After he recovered, he returned to duty with a specially designed gas mask to protect him. His high sensitivity to the smell of gas alerted him to an attack while the troops were still asleep. Stubby barked and nipped at the soldiers to awaken them, saving many lives. He was also known for his ability to find injured soldiers and was responsible for capturing a German spy in the Argonne. In addition, his keen sense of hearing warned soldiers in no man’s land of incoming artillery shells. Stubby was promoted to sergeant – the first dog to be given rank in the U.S. armed forces. Following the retaking of Chateau-Thierry by the US, the women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat for his many medals.
Sergeant Stubby wasn’t the only dog to serve in World War I. Dogs aren’t the only animal heroes. Dogs were trained in Europe as sentries and delivered messages. Many wore Red Cross banners and carried medical supplies to the wounded. They brought help or when help was too late, comforted the dying.
Other animals served too.
Horses, donkeys and mules carried supplies to soldiers and took the wounded to field hospitals.
Pigeons carried messages in capsules and, sometimes cameras attached to their legs. One of the more famous ones, Cher Ami, saved a lost battalion by identifying its location, though being constantly under fire.
Cats offered comfort in the trenches, while keeping rats and mice under control.
Even glow worms served by providing light to read messages in the trenches – light that was not noticeable to the enemy.
So with Memorial Day 2018 in the not too distant past, let remember all who have served, as well as the faithful companions who served with them.