During the first World War, the most decorated war dog was a small bully breed mix known as Sergeant Stubby. Stubby had wandered into the soldier’s encampment one day and befriended the troops. In October 1917, he was smuggled in an overcoat aboard the troop ship S.S. Minnesota that was bound for France.
Stubby would do his rounds through the trenches, lifting the morale of the troops and would warn of gas attacks or incoming attacks from the Germans. He was promoted to Sergeant after holding a German Spy by the seat of his pants until American troops could come to complete the capture (he now outranked his master, who was only a corporal).
Stubby was gassed a few times, eventually ending up in the hospital when his master, Corporal J. Robert Conroy, was wounded. After sticking in the hospital for a while, Stubby and Conroy returned to the 102nd, where they spent the remainder of the war.
Stubby was smuggled back home in much the same fashion as he entered the war. However, he was so well known by this time, that one or two general officers likely looked the other way as he boarded the ship to sail home with his unit.
This seems like it would be the end of Stubby’s story, but when he got back home to America, he had become somewhat of a celebrity.
Stubby was made a lifetime member of the American Legion and marched in every Legion parade as well as every Legion convention from the end of the war until his death.
He was written about by practically every newspaper in the country. He met U.S. Presidents Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge. He was a lifetime member of the Red Cross and YMCA.
In 1921, General Blackjack Pershing, who was the supreme commander of American Forces during the War, pinned Stubby with a Gold Hero Dog’s Medal that was commissioned by the Humane Education Society (predecessor to the current Humane Society).
As a result of his time spent in the War, Stubby earned various medals and awards, including the Purple Heart, 3 Service Stripes, Yankee Division YD Patch, French Medal Battle of Verdun, 1st Annual American Legion Convention Medal, New Haven WW1 Veterans Medal, Republic of France Grande War Medal, St. Mihiel Campaign Medal, Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal, and the 6th Annual American Legion Convention Medal.
Sgt. Stubby passed away in 1926, and his obituary in the New York Times was three columns wide and half a page long, which was considerably more than many notable figures of his day.
His remains were preserved and are now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.