In 1916, the United States was deep in a conflict that changed the world. A time of innocence and idealism would collapse in the face of WWI. As areas of sporting events, education and otherwise peaceful intentions were pressed into service by the military, a group of students participated in military training in Yale Field and were joined by a charming, happy Bull Terrier, one we would quickly identify as a Pit Bull today.
Stubby, as he came to be known for his chunky body and good sense of humor, was an endearing mascot and treasured companion, so when the young men were reassigned to Newport News for final training before deployment, they couldn't abandon him.
It is difficult to say how many soldiers returned home due to Stubby's alerts over gas attacks (he could smell the gas in time for the soldiers to get their masks on) or when he identified and captured (by the seat of his pants, no less) a German spy.
In 1926, after a life worthy of several movies, Stubby died. His remains were preserved and are still maintained (along with his "uniform" made by the French ladies and his medals) by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, DC.
And this is Chips. Spirited and quick to learn, Chips served bravely as a tank guard dog, traveling throughout Europe, Africa, and Italy with General Patton's Seventh Army.
On one occasion, Chips alerted to an impending ambush. Then, with a phone cable attached to his collar, Chips ran back to base, dodging gunfire so that the endangered platoon could establish a communications line and ask for the backup they so desperately needed.These are just two of the thousands of dogs that have given their lives to military service over the years. On this coming Memorial Day, we honor our brave brothers and sisters who valiantly served their countries.
There are several sites dedicated to our canine military heroes, including:
A Tribute to the War Dogs of the US Military
The United States War Dog Association
Photo courtesy of the US National Archives.