Archive for May 2016

Honoring Those Who Serve

May 25, 2016

Memorial Day is coming up soon, a time when we remember those who have served their country and given their lives in the line of duty. While we pause to honor them, let us please also honor the war horses and military dogs that have gone into battle alongside our troops.

From Sumerian equines pulling wagons in 3000 BC to the chariots of Rome, horses have been an essential part of military units throughout history. They carried knights of the Middle Ages into battle as well as the cavalry units of the Civil War and WWI. Even in WWII they helped transport troops and supplies. In more recent times, horses were ridden by U.S. Special Forces in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. Today, horses are still in use by law enforcement for traffic and crowd control as well as search and rescue for missing persons. Memorials dedicated to the all the horses that died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn can be seen at the national monument in Montana. It honors those who fell that day, whether ridden by the U.S. Cavalry or the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne Warriors.

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Dogs have also served well in the military. Chips, the most decorated dog of WW II, and Smoky were two such heroes. While Chips, as a German Shepherd\Collie\Husky mix, was well-suited to his duties, Smoky, a 4 pound Yorkshire Terrier discovered hiding in a foxhole, was a most unlikely little soldier but who served gallantly throughout the war. Riding in a backpack much of the time, she shared her GI’s meals and warned of incoming shells as well as entering places no one else could fit. A bronze sculpture of Smoky sitting in a GI helmet was erected in her honor in Lakewood, OH, where she is buried. If you would like to know more about these two canine heroes, check them out here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chips_(dog) and here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoky_(dog)

Dogs continue to serve with loyalty and courage today. One dog recently honored for her bravery on the battlefield is Lucca, a U.S. Marine Corps German Shepherd who served six years of active duty and lost a leg in Afghanistan. Lucca was given the PDSA Dickin Medal, the highest award any animal can receive and the highest British military decoration awarded for valor. After discovering an explosive device that detonated, Lucca received severe burns and was rushed into surgery where her leg was amputated. Good soldier that she is, Lucca was up and walking within 10 days. Her handler, Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham, says her personality has not changed and she remains loyal and true. Let’s remember that without the military dogs, many human soldiers would not return home.

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Have a wonderful and reflective Memorial Day weekend.