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Honoring Military Dogs for K-9 Veterans Day

Dogs are great for many reasons. They’re lovable, loyal, funny, comforting, and compassionate – to name a few qualities. Dogs are also brave, which has been viewed as an honorable characteristic by humans for thousands of years. Dogs have been companions of soldiers for a very long time, fighting alongside their human warriors, carrying messages, and standing guard. In honor of K9 Veteran’s day, here is a list of some of the most heroic K9 soldiers to date.


Stubby was a Boston Bull Terrier and is one of the most well-known military canines. He was a stray before he wandered onto an Army training center in New Haven, Connecticut in 1917. After Private First-Class Robert Conroy took Stubby in, he ended up on the front lines of World War I. He was a part of 17 battles, detected gas and alerted soldiers, located injured men on battlefields, learned drills and bugle calls, and how to tell English soldiers apart from Germans. He took part in parades, met three presidents, and received dozens of awards, including a Purple Heart. Stubby died in 1926, but his coat is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. (Source: 1)

Stubby | Purple Heart Foundation


Rags was a stray Terrier in Paris in 1918 before befriending US Army Private James Donovan during World War I. He became a carrier for Donovan’s unit and carried messages from the 26th Infantry Regiment to the supporting 7th Field Artillery Brigade. During the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, a major battle in France in 1918, Rags lost an eye and Donovan was injured by poisonous gas. Donovan later died of his injuries and Rags lived out the remainder of his life in Maryland before dying in 1936. (Source: 1)

Rags with Sergeant George E. Hickman, 16th Infantry, 26th Division| US Army Signal Corps


When the United States entered World War II, thousands of people offered their dogs to be trained for guard and patrol duty – Chips, a German Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix, was one of them. He took part in Allied campaigns in North Africa, Italy, France, and a few other places in Europe. During the 1943 Invasion of Sicily, Chips took down a hidden German gun nest. He later went on to guard a conference between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Chips was honored with a Silver Star and was also nominated for a Distinguished Service Cross and a Purple Heart. In 1945 he returned home as a hero and died the following year. (Source: 1)

Chips receiving a donut from GI| Getty/Bettmann


In 1964, the US Air Force brought Nemo, a German Shepherd, into the Vietnam War guard dog program. After finishing training, Nemo partnered with Airman 2nd Class Robert Throneburg and was sent to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Vietnam, to be a guard dog with the 377th Air Police Squadron. The Tan Son Nhut Air Base was hit by a mortar attack by the Viet Cong during an attack in 1966. Nemo’s job was to find intruders who infiltrated the base and after he found a group hiding near the perimeter, Nemo attacked with Throneburg close behind. They were both injured during the incident, but Nemo was credited with Throneburg’s survival. After Nemo was sent home as a war hero, he worked as a recruitment dog in his retirement. He later died in 1972. (Source: 1)

Nemo with Capt. Robert M. Sullivan| Denver Post Via Getty Images