Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery

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Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery
Homeward bound Lucca retires 120702-M-KW153-143.jpg
Lucca with her handler, Cpl Juan M Rodriguez
Awarded forConspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty in war and peace
CountryUnited States
First awarded2019

The Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery was instituted in 2019 in the United States by Robin Hutton to honor the work of American animals in war and peace. The medal was created to be the American equivalent of the Dickin Medal, awarded in the UK for any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty particularly in the armed forces or civil emergency services.[1]


The first recipients received their awards on November 14, 2019 either posthumously or in person at a ceremony attended by dignitaries and members of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by Angels Without Wings, Inc., The Livingood Group (Mari Lou Livingood), and the National Marine Corps League. Organizers, members of Congress and animal handlers present called it a historic day and that the awards were long overdue.

Sgt. Reckless in pasture

The recipients included two pigeons, five dogs, and a horse. G.I. Joe, one of the birds, died almost 60 years ago, but during World War II, he saved the lives of over one hundred allied forces by flying 20 miles in 20 minutes to "deliver a message that aborted an imminent bombing by friendly forces." The horse, Staff Sergeant Reckless, served with the US Marines in numerous combat actions during the Korean War, carrying supplies and ammunition, and was also used to evacuate wounded. “Let the record show: Sergeant Reckless was a lot more courageous than I,” said former senator John Warner in presenting the award in honor of the revered horse.[2]

Other posthumous medals were awarded to Chips, a pet husky mix who served in World War II; Stormy, a German shepherd who helped capture enemy soldiers during the Vietnam war; and Lucca, an IED detecting dog, who protected thousands of human lives as part of her assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. On her last mission in 2012, when she was on patrol in Afghanistan, she sniffed out a 30-pound (13.6-kilogram) IED and was continuing her search when she lost one of her legs when another IED detonated underneath her. Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, her handler, thought she had been killed, but was able to rescue her.[3]

Two living animals were at the ceremony for their awards, Bucca, a former stray who overcame a rough past to become a star arson-detecting K-9 for the New York Fire Department, and Bass, a Belgian Malinois who held the rare position of “multipurpose canine” in the Marine Corps’ Special Operations Command until retiring in October 2019. Bass was accompanied by his handler, Staff Sgt. Alex Schnell.[4] Bass served four deployments with in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia from 2014 to 2019.[5]

At the 2019 ceremony a campaign was initiated to create an International War Animals Museum that will recognize animal heroism in war and peace.[6]

Recipient(s) Animal Date of award Notes Ref(s)
G.I. Joe Pigeon 14 November 2019 Delivered a message credited with saving over 100 lives, served in W.W. II
Stormy Dog 14 November 2019 German shepherd who served in Vietnam
Lucca Dog 14 November 2019 Explosives-detecting dog, served in Afghanistan
Bass Dog 14 November 2019 Explosives-detecting dog, served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia
Bucca Dog 14 November 2019 Arson-detecting dog, served in New York Fire Department
Staff Sergeant Reckless Horse 14 November 2019 Served in the Korean War with U.S. Marines; carried supplies and evacuated wounded
Chips Dog 14 November 2019 Pet husky mix whose family volunteered him in W.W. II
Cher Ami Pigeon 14 November 2019 Pigeon who served with U.S. Signal Corps in W.W. I. Delivered a critical message to end friendly fire shelling despite being gravelly wounded in the process.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Washington Post, "New animal bravery medal honors heroic dogs, pigeons and horse," Nov. 18 2019 [1]
  2. ^ The Washington Post, "U.S. animals now have a medal for wartime bravery", Nov 15, 2019 [2]
  3. ^ Lucca the Marine dog receives medal for service CNN, 5 April 2016
  4. ^ Stars and Stripes, "Marine dog is honored for combat valor, along with posthumous awards for three other dogs, two pigeons and a horse," Nov 15, 2019 [3]
  5. ^ SC Morning Post, "Two pigeons, five dogs and a horse given US medal for wartime bravery", Nov. 16, 2019 [4]
  6. ^ AARP, "Animals of Valor Honored in Inaugural Ceremony," Nov 15, 2019