Millions of Americans admired Sergeant Stubby. His courage under fire was legendary. He was a decorated hero of World War I. He also had four legs and barked a lot. You guessed it – Sergeant Stubby was a dog.
The short brindle bull terrier mutt was the first dog ever given rank in the U.S. Army. His story is the stuff movies are made of.
It’s believed Stubby started his life as a stray. Without an owner or home, he made his first steps into the world on a wing and a prayer.
One day the dog walked into Yale University’s football stadium. The stadium had become a camp for the soldiers of the 102nd Infantry before their deployment.
At Camp Yale, Stubby bumped into 25-year-old private J. Robert Conroy. The two soon became fast friends. Stubby had finally found his home.
A few months later Conroy was due to ship out. He had already made a crucial decision. Rather than abandon his pal he would risk smuggling him overseas.
Conroy hid Stubby in his army coat to board the ship. When at sea he hid him in the ship’s coal bin. At some point, the crew discovered the four-legged stowaway. Stubby charmed the officers on board. By the time they landed in France, he had become the 102nd Infantry’s unofficial mascot.
Throughout history, dogs have played a part in warfare. The Greeks, Babylonians, and Romans all used dogs in battle. At the outbreak of World War I, the US was one of the only fighting forces not to have a canine unit. But they did have Stubby on their side.
From October 1917, the 102nd saw more fighting than any other infantry division. They spent a total of 210 days on the Western Front and Stubby was there for the duration.
This soldier was the real deal. He went over the top on many occasions. He saved the 102nd from a gas attack by barking and biting sleeping soldiers until they woke up. He was wounded in action by a German shell. He sniffed out an enemy soldier hiding in the bushes.
It’s claimed that when Stubby saw a German uniform it was like a red rag to a bull.
After the war Stubby became a national hero. He met three sitting presidents and the whole country celebrated his heroism. He was the most famous animal in the United States.
In 1926 Stubby died in his sleep in Conroy’s arms.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. As Stubby proves, sometimes they also come on four legs instead of two.