15 Heartwarming Images Of Brave Dogs Of Wᴀʀ

Dogs are brave and loyal, never more so than when in a w.ᴀʀ zone.

1. A Dog Has His Day

On July 6, 1921, a curious gathering took place at the State, War, and Navy Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. The occasion was a ceremony honoring veterans of the 102nd Infantry of the American Expeditionary Forces’ 26th “Yankee” Division, who had seen action in France during the Great War. The hall was packed with dozens of members of the 102nd—field clerks, infantrymen, generals—but one soldier in particular commanded the spotlight. The attention seemed to bother him; the New York Times reported that the soldier was “a trifle gun shy, and showed some symptoms of nervous excitement.” When photographers snapped his picture, he flinched.

The ceremony was presided over by Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe during the war. Pershing made a short speech, noting the soldier’s “heroism of highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” The general solemnly lifted an engraved solid gold medal from its case and pinned it to the hero’s uniform. In response, the Times reported, the solider “licked his chops and wagged his diminutive tail.” Sergeant Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier mutt, was officially a decorated hero of World War I. The award was not a formal U.S. military commendation, but it symbolically confirmed Stubby, who’d also earned one wound stripe and three service stripes, as the greatest war dog in the nation’s history. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, he was the first dog ever given rank in the U.S. Army. His glory was even hailed in France, which also presented him with a medal.

2. Dogs in the Trenches

The story of dogs in warfare is an old one, stretching back to antiquity. Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians all used dogs in battle. Dogs were part of Attila the Hun’s forces in his fifth-century European conquests. In the Middle Ages, knights outfitted dogs with canine armor; Napoleon used trained dogs as sentinels in the French campaign in Egypt.
3. Stubby in Action

In October 1917, one month after landing in France, the American Expeditionary Forces entered the Western Front. The raw troops of the 26th Division were brought to Neufchâteau, in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, to train with more experienced French forces. The 26th would end the war as one of America’s most battle-scarred. They took part in four major offensives—Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne—and 17 engagements. They saw more fighting than any other American infantry division: 210 days in total. Stubby was there for the duration. The regiment’s leader, Col. John Henry Parker, was a gruff, intimidating man, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and an expert machine gun tactician who eventually received a Silver Star for extraordinary heroism. It was Parker who gave special orders that Stubby remain with the 26th. The dog, it was said, “was the only member of his regiment that could talk back to [Parker] and get away with it.”