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 and Mari Lou Livingood 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, 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 pigeons, 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, Sergeant Reckless, served with the U.S. 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. Bass served four deployments with in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia from 2014 to 2019.[4]

At the 2019 ceremony, a campaign was initiated to create an International Animals in War and Peace Museum that will recognize animal heroism in war and peace.[5]

At the second medal ceremony on March 9, 2022, six dogs received either the Medal of Bravery or the new Distinguished Service Medal. One of the dogs had served in World War II, one in the Vietnam War, and one was on the raid that eliminated Osama Bin Laden; the other three were all recently active, and attended the ceremony. Three of the dogs received the Medal of Bravery.[6]

Recipient(s) Animal Date of award Notes Ref(s)
Sergeant Reckless Horse 14 November 2019 Served in the Korean War with U.S. Marines; carried supplies and evacuated wounded.
Cher Ami Pigeon 14 November 2019 Pigeon who served with U.S. Signal Corps in World War I. Delivered a critical message to end friendly fire shelling despite being gravely wounded in the process.
Chips Dog 14 November 2019 Pet Husky mix whose family volunteered him in World War II.
G.I. Joe Pigeon 14 November 2019 Delivered a message credited with saving over 100 lives, served in World War II.
Stormy Dog 14 November 2019 German Shepherd who served in Vietnam.
Lucca Dog 14 November 2019 Explosives-detecting dog, served in Afghanistan.
Bucca Dog 14 November 2019 Arson-detecting dog, served in the New York Fire Department.
Bass Dog 14 November 2019 Explosives-detecting dog, served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
Nemo Dog 9 March 2022 A German Shepherd, served in the Vietnam War.
Cairo Dog 9 March 2022 A Belgian Malinois, worked with SEAL Team Six, was a member of the team that eliminated Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Ziggy Dog 9 March 2022 A German Shepherd serving with the United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command.

Distinguished Service Medal[edit]

A second medal, the Animals in War & Peace Distinguished Service Medal, was introduced at the 2022 ceremony, for animals who have distinguished themselves by "exceptionally meritorious service to the U.S in a duty of great responsibility", and was awarded to three dogs.[6]

Recipient(s) Animal Date of award Notes Ref(s)
Hurricane Dog 9 March 2022 A Belgian Malinois serving with the U.S. Secret Service, stopped an intruder on the White House grounds in 2014.
Smoky Dog 9 March 2022 A Yorkshire Terrier who served in World War II. Notably pulled a communication wire through a 70-foot-long drainage culvert under a captured airstrip. Considered the first therapy dog.
Feco Dog 9 March 2022 A Vizsla serving with the Canine Explosive Detection Team of the U.S. Coast Guard. Still serving at the time of his award, Feco has conducted over 1335 searches in the San Francisco Bay area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New animal bravery medal honors heroic dogs, pigeons and horse". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  2. ^ "U.S. animals now have a medal for wartime bravery". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  3. ^ Jackson, Amanda (5 April 2016). "Lucca the Marine dog receives medal for service". CNN. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Marine dog is honored for combat valor, along with posthumous awards for three other dogs, two pigeons and a horse". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  5. ^ Kassraie, Aaron. "Animals Awarded Medal of Bravery for Serving in Wars". AARP. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  6. ^ a b "2022 Animals in War and Peace Medal Ceremony". Retrieved 15 March 2022.