11 Famous Canine War Veterans
1. Chips, a German Shepherd, was trained in 1942 and was one of the first war dogs shipped overseas. Trained as a sentry dog, Chips broke away from his handler and attacked a pillbox containing an enemy machine gun. He grabbed one man and forced the others to surrender. He was responsible for many more surrenders and was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart---both later revoked. Chips is the subject of the 1993 Disney Movie, "Chips the War Dog."
2. Sergeant Stubby, a pit bull who served in WWI, was the most decorated American war dog in US Military history. Stubby became a national front-page hero when he saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks. He even once caught a German spy by his britches.
3. Smoky, a 4-pound Yorkshire Terrier, was an unlikely war hero. Smoky was awarded eight battle stars, but is best known for carrying a crucial line beneath a runway, a feat that would have taken 40 men three days. She became a celebrity upon her returned to the US, and toured the country.
4. Judy, a Pointer born in 1937, was a ship's dog on the Grasshopper during WWII when the ship sank. Its crew made its way to an island that appeared to have no water, but Judy dug a hole and found fresh water, saving their lives. Judy and crew were later captured, and Judy became a Japanese prisoner of war. She later came to the UK where she was awarded the Dickin medal.
5. Gander, a Newfoundland, fought the Japanese during the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941. At one point he grabbed a grenade that had been thrown in his unit's midst, rushing back with it toward the Japanese who had thrown it. It exploded, killing Gander, but saving several of his troops. He was awarded the Dickin Medal in 2000. His name is listed with the 1977 men and women on the
Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall in Canada.
6. Gunner, a Kelpie, was found with a broken leg in 1942 and given the name Gunner so the field could repair him "legitimately." Gunner became known for his uncanny hearing and ability to warn of approaching airplanes long before humans could hear them. It was said he could warn of approaching Japanese aircraft 20 minutes before they showed up on radar. He was so reliable that air-raid sirens were sounded when Gunner gave the warning.
7. Nemo A534, a German Shepherd serving in Vietnam, alerted his handler to the presence of enemy troops. Released into the jungle, Nemo attacked the enemy. He and his handler killed two, but were both wounded. His handler was shot twice but radioed his position before passing out. Nemo was shot in the eye, and his snout was creased by a bullet, but he crawled across his handler's body and wouldn't let anyone approach. Credited with saving his handler's life, Nemo was one of the first K-9 units retired and allowed to return to the US.
8. Rifleman Khan, a German Shepherd in WWII, was in a boat with his handler one night when it was capsized by enemy fire. Khan swam to shore, but his handler couldn't swim, so Khan swam back out 200 yards under heavy shelling to find him in the dark sea. Khan pulled him to shore before collapsing beside him.
9. Rags, a terrier mix born in 1916 in Paris, became the US 1st Infantry Division's mascot in WWI. Rags delivered message to the front lines. He became famous when he delivered a vital message despite being gassed, bombed and ending up partially blinded. His owner and handler died of his injuries afterward, but the message saved many lives.
10. Rip, another terrier mix, was found after a bombing raid of London and eventually adopted as a mascot for the Southill Street Air Raid Patrol. Never trained for search rescue, Rip nonetheless later became a self-appointed search dog, sniffing out victims trapped beneath rubble. In one year he found more than 100 victims of London air raids. His success was one of the cases that prompted the training of search and rescue dogs near the end of WWII.
11. Just Nuisance, a Great Dane in South Africa, wasn't exactly a hero, but he was the sort of dog that troops could rally behind. He moved into the Navy yard and slept at the top of ship's gangplanks. Nuisance roamed freely and had a habit of jumping on trains. The conductors would put him out, but he'd just walk to the next station and hitch a ride on the next rain. The railway station finally threatened to have him euthanized unless somebody kept him off the trains or paid his fares. A letter-writing campaign resulted in the Navy formally enlisting him in 1939, as armed-forces members received free rail travel. Nuisance was not an exemplary soldier; he was often AWOL, he stayed out at pubs past closing, and he fought with ship's dog mascots (even killing two of them). Despite that, he was a moral booster for the sailors and appeared at many promotional events.
Eleven canine war greats doesn't even scratch the surface. Every canine who has served at war deserves our thanks---and every one is a hero.