In several states across the country, March 13 is K9 Veterans Dayand there are organizations trying to make it a national holidaywhich makes this a good day to honor those dogs who have served in the U.S. military. We’ve posted about dozens of such dogs over the past few years, and rightly so. They are heroes who dedicate themselves to keeping humans from harm.
Today is the holiday because on March 13, 1942 the U.S. Army officially started its K-9 Corps. Of course, dogs had been serving with soldiers since the earliest days of the Revolutionary War. And World War I had produced a certifiable celebrity in Stubby, a pit bull who fought in the Argonne and whose feats and accomplishments were honored by a grateful nation. After his death in 1926, Stubbies remains were preserved and sent to the Smithsonian.
Click here to read Stubby’s story and watch the video below.
The first dog to receive the Purple Heart was Chips, a Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix who shipped out in 1942:
He then saw battle during the invasion of Sicily, when he broke away from his handler and attacked a machine-gun nest.
The dog was wounded in the attack but flushed out four enemy soldiers, who were captured. Chips later helped to capture 10 enemy combatants on another patrol—on the same day.
Chips was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, and Purple Heart for his heroism. Unfortunately, this upset a national Purple Heart commander, who protested giving such honored medals to a dog. Some say the dog was stripped of his medals, but a contemporary account says that he was allowed to keep them.