History Corner: Sergeant Stubby

[Welcome to the first segment of the Stewover History Corner. I hope you find these brief looks into the past as interesting as I do.]

The photograph above is of Sergeant Stubby. He was the most decorated war dog of World War I, and he is the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat.

Stubby’s origins were never discovered, but he is generally described as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. When a group of soldiers were training in New Haven, CT, Stubby stopped by to make friends. Corporal Robert Conroy look a particular liking to Stubby and when it came time for the soldiers to ship out, Corporal Conroy hid Stubby on the ship.

Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division in France for 18 months. He was in the trenches and participated in four offenses and 17 battles. His first combat experience was on February 5, 1918. He was injured in a raid in April 1918 by a hand grenade thrown by the Germans. When he recovered, he returned to the trenches. Stubby was the victim of gas during his combat experience. After being gassed himself, he was able to detect it before anyone else and warn his fellow soldiers to put on their gas masks.

Stubby would locate wounded soldiers and help bring medical attention to them. Also, since his hearing is sharper than a human’s hearing, he was able to hear the high-pitched whine of incoming artillery shells and would notify his unit to take cover.

When his unit was in Argonne, he identified a German spy and began to bark. It is thought that because the spy addressed him in German and not English, Stubby knew that something was wrong. He held on to the German until other members of his unit arrived to take him into custody.

The grateful women of Chateau-Thierry made him a chamois coat to pin his medals after their town was retaken by the US soldiers. After the war, Sergeant Stubby went home with Corporal Conroy.

Stubby was a celebrity after World War I and led many parades. He met three US Presidents. He went to Georgetown University Law Center with Corporal Conroy and became the Georgetown Hoyas’ team mascot. He was a life member of the YMCA, the Red Cross, and the American Legion. He was awarded a gold medal for his service to his country in 1921 by the Humane Education Society.

Stubby died in 1926 in the arms of his friend Corporal Conroy. His remains were preserved and are featured in The Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit at the Smithsonian. On November 11, 2006, Sergeant Stubby was honored with a brick in the Walk of Honor at the United States World War I monument in Kansas City.

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