Sergeant Stubby (1916 or 1917 – March 16, 1926), was the most decorated war dog of World War I and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat.
LifeWhile training for combat on the fields of Yale University in 1917, Private J. Robert Conroy found a brindle American Pit Bull Terrier mix puppy with a short tail. He named him "Stubby", and soon the dog became the mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. He learned the bugle calls, the drills, and even a modified dog salute as he put his right paw on his right eyebrow when a salute was executed by his fellow soldiers. Stubby had a positive effect on morale, and was allowed to remain in the camp, even though animals were forbidden.
When the division shipped out for France aboard the SS Minnesota, Private Conroy smuggled Stubby aboard. Hidden in the coal bin until the ship was far at sea, Stubby was brought out on deck where the sailors were soon won over by the canine soldier. Stubby was once again smuggled off the ship and was soon discovered by Pvt. Conroy's commanding officer. The CO allowed Stubby to remain after Stubby gave him a salute.
When the Yankee Division headed for the front lines in France, Stubby was given special orders allowing him to accompany the Division to the front lines as their official mascot. The 102nd Infantry reached the front lines on the 5 February 1918. Stubby soon became accustomed to the loud rifles and heavy artillery fire. His first battle injury occurred from gas exposure; he was taken to a nearby field hospital and nursed back to health. The injury left him sensitive to the tiniest trace of gas. When the Division was attacked in an early morning gas launch, most of the troops were asleep. Stubby recognized the gas and ran through the trench barking and biting at the soldiers, rousing them to sound the gas alarm, saving many from injury.
Stubby also had a talent for locating wounded men between the trenches of the opposing armies; he would listen for the sound of English and then go to the location, barking until paramedics arrived or leading the lost soldiers back to the safety of the trenches. He even caught a German soldier mapping out the layout of the Allied trenches. The soldier called to Stubby, but he put his ears back and began to bark. As the German ran, Stubby bit him on the legs, causing the soldier to trip and fall. He continued to attack the man until the American soldiers arrived. For capturing an enemy spy, Stubby was put in for a promotion to the rank of Sergeant by the commander of the 102nd Infantry. He became the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces.
Stubby was injured during a grenade attack, receiving a large amount of shrapnel in his chest and leg. He was rushed to a field hospital and later transferred to a Red Cross Recovery Hospital for additional surgery. When Stubby became well enough to move around at the hospital, he visited wounded soldiers, boosting their morale.
By the end of the war, Stubby had served in 17 battles. He led the American troops in a pass and review parade and later visited with President Woodrow Wilson. He visited the White House twice and met Presidents Harding and Coolidge. Stubby was awarded many medals for his heroism, including a medal from the Humane Society which was presented by General John Pershing, the Commanding General of the United States Armies. He was awarded a membership in the American Legion and the Y.M.C.A.
When his master, J. Robert Conroy, began studying law at Georgetown University, Stubby became the mascot of the Georgetown Hoyas. He died in 1926.
Military service26th (Yankee) Division in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and 17 battles. He entered combat on February 5, 1918 at Chemin des Dames, north of Soissons, and was under constant fire, day and night for over a month. In April 1918, during a raid to take Seicheprey (Meurthe-et-Moselle), Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by the retreating Germans throwing hand grenades. He was sent to the rear for convalescence and, as he had done on the front, was able to improve morale. When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches. After being gassed himself, Stubby learned to warn his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in no man's land, and — since he could hear the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans could — became very adept at letting his unit know when to duck for cover. He was solely responsible for capturing a German spy in the Argonne. Following the retaking of Château-Thierry by the US, the thankful women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat on which were pinned his many medals. There is also a legend that while in Paris with Corporal Conroy, Stubby saved a young girl from being hit by a car. At the end of the war, Conroy smuggled Stubby home.
After the warAfter returning home, Stubby became a celebrity and marched in, and normally led, many parades across the country. He met Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Starting in 1921, he followed Conroy to Georgetown University Law Center, and became the Georgetown Hoyas' team mascot. He would be given the football at halftime and would nudge the ball around the field to the amusement of the fans.
In 1926, Stubby died in Conroy's arms. His remains are featured in The Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit at the Smithsonian. Stubby was honored with a brick in the Walk of Honor at the United States World War I monument, Liberty Memorial, in Kansas City at a ceremony held on Armistice Day, November 11, 2006.
Medals and awardsAmerican Legion, the Red Cross, and the YMCA. In 1921, the Humane Education Society awarded him a special gold medal for service to his country. It was presented by General John Pershing.
- 3 Service Stripes
- Yankee Division YD Patch
- French Medal Battle of Verdun
- 1st Annual American Legion Convention Medal
- New Haven World War I Veterans Medal
- Republic of France Grande War Medal
- St Mihiel Campaign Medal
- Wound stripe, replaced with Purple Heart when introduced in 1932
- Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal
- 6th Annual American Legion Convention
- Humane Education Society Gold Medal