Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

Yesterday across the United States, a brand new animated movie, that’s sure to get two (2) paws up, was featured for the first time on the big screen. This inspiring true story depicts the life of sergeant Stubby, a brindle bull terrier that became the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division of the United States Army. His story is one of loyalty, valor, and friendship. It begins on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut where Stubby roamed the streets as a stray.

In 1917, the United States entered World War I and seemingly overnight America began prepping for war. According to the history behind the movie, “Storefronts became induction centers for young men to join the fight, back yards became ‘victory gardens’ to avoid wartime food shortages, parks and schools became training grounds to convert ordinary citizens into combat-ready Soldiers” and those training grounds are exactly where Stubby found his forever home within the military and his new owner, Private First Class Robert Conroy.

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At first sight of his puppy salute, Conroy’s commanding officer deemed Stubby the infantry mascot and so Stubby joined his men on the front lines on February 5, 1918. Stubby knew more than just how to salute, he learned the bugle calls, the drills, how to decipher English from German, how to detect traces of gas to warn his soldiers, and how to locate wounded men on the battlefield. Stubby had been in 17 battles; he was exposed to toxic gas and received multiple surgeries to remove shrapnel that hit him from an explosion. Stubby’s most notable accomplishment was when he found and secured a German soldier trying to map out the Yankee trenches. For capturing an enemy spy, Stubby was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, making him the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces.

After the war, Sergeant Stubby became the most famous animal in the United States, serving in parades, visiting presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge, became the mascot of Georgetown University and was awarded many medals for his heroism, including the Purple Heart for his wounds in battle. Sergeant Stubby is now featured at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and you can enjoy learning the story behind Sergeant Stubby with the whole family for the price of a movie ticket. Your little ones can even make their own Purple Heart medals on the Sergeant Stubby website.

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We are so grateful for Sergeant Stubby’s bravery, sacrifice, and honorable service. The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to honoring ALL of our heroes, and it is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one, sometimes that even includes partnering service dogs with our wounded veterans. Show your support for our troops and help us continue our service dog programs by making a one-time or monthly pledge.

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