Four-Legged Fighters: A Tribute to the K-9 Corps

Published: 24 February 2024

By Michel Robertson
via the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas website


Stubby was promoted to Sergeant in WWI and received a gold medal from General John Pershing.

Bow-wow, bow-wow, arf-arf, woof!” That’s dog-speak for National K-9 Veterans Day, celebrated on March 13 and commemorating the service and sacrifices of American military dogs throughout history

The United States had an unofficial canine force in World War I. Military dogs, however, were not officially recognized until March 13, 1942, when a private organization, Dogs for Defense, was established to recruit the public’s dogs for the U.S. military’s War Dog Program. Thus, the K-9 Corps was born. Often referred to as the “unsung heroes of the battlefield,” war dogs stand beside their handlers facing danger and providing protection for thousands of men and women in combat.

In recognition of National K-9 Veterans Day, the following three stories of dogs from different conflicts exemplify the honor and courage of our country’s military working dogs.

Stubby: WWI Hero Promoted to Sergeant

While training in New Haven, CT, soldiers befriended a mixed breed dog who seemed to enjoy their company. They named him Stubby. Smuggled to Europe by his new friends, Stubby became the unofficial mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 26th Yankee Division.

In France the fearless pup participated in 17 battles and four offensives on the Western Front. Stubby’s patriotic contributions included alerting troops to incoming mustard gas attacks, comforting the wounded, locating missing soldiers lost between the trenches, and boosting morale. Stubby allegedly caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants, holding him until American soldiers assumed responsibility.

General John “Black Jack” Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, presented America’s four-legged hero with a gold medal, praising his “heroism of the highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” Stubby is the first dog to be nominated and promoted to sergeant through combat. His remains lie in the Smithsonian Institution.

Read the entire article on the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas website here:

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