Our military does an incredible job of protecting our global interests, but they don’t do it alone. They’ve got a bunch of very good doggies that help them out.
Case in point: President Donald Trump announced in October 2019 that a military dog named Conan played a role in the raid against ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwest Syria, but he’s far from the first dog to help out the military.
Dogs have been working as bomb sniffers, message carriers, and guards for US military branches since at least World War I, when a stray Boston bull terrier wandered on to an Army training field and went on to become a unit’s mascot as they traveled to Europe.
In the decades following, trained dogs traveled across the world as they worked with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. And their natural skills and instincts are honed in training, making these dogs become the perfect working companions for the troops.
Some of the dogs even became military heroes, sniffing out the enemy, and attacking when needed.
Here are some of the good dogs who have helped the US military over the years.
Stubby the dog.
1. Stubby, a Boston bull terrier, is the most famous US military mascot from World War I.
Before Stubby became the famed dog he is today, he was just a stray pooch who wandered his way on to an Army training center in New Haven, Connecticut.
While on the training grounds in 1917, Private First Class Robert Conroy took him in and Stubby ended up on the front lines of World War I as the mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division of the United States Army.
According to The Purple Heart Foundation, Stubby took part in 17 battles, detected traces of gas to warn soldiers, located wounded men on battlefields, and learned drills and bugle calls, and how to decipher English from German.
Following his efforts, Stubby participated in parades, met three presidents, and received dozens of awards, including a Purple Heart.
Stubby died in 1926, and his coat is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, The Military Times reported.
Rags with Sergeant George E. Hickman, 16th Infantry, 26th Division.
(US Army Signal Corps)
2. Rags was a message carrier for troops in Europe during World War I.
Rags, a stray terrier in Paris during World War I, became a war hero after befriending US Army Private James Donovan in 1918, according to K9 History.
The dog soon became a carrier for Donovan’s unit, carrying messages from the 26th Infantry Regiment to the supporting 7th Field Artillery Brigade.
Rags lost an eye and Donovan was injured by poisonous gas during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, a major battle in France in 1918. Donovan later died of his injuries.
Rags, meanwhile, lived out his life in Maryland, and died in 1936.
3. Chips is the most famous dog of World War II — and he once single-handedly attacked a hidden German gun nest.
After the US entered World War II, thousands of people donated their dogs to be trained for guard and patrol duty, and Chips was one of them.
The German shepherd-collie-husky mix took part in Allied campaigns in North Africa, Italy, France, and elsewhere in Europe, and was able to take down a hidden German gun nest during the 1943 invasion of Sicily, according to Inside Edition.
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 nominated for a Distinguished Service Cross and a Purple Heart, The Washington Post Reported.
He returned home a hero in 1945 and died the following year.
4. A German Shepherd named Nemo protected his handler during the Vietnam War.
The US Air Force bought Nemo, a German Shepherd in 1964 as part of a Vietnam War guard dog program, according to Ton Son Nhut Air Base’s website.
He was put through training, partnered with Airman 2nd Class Robert Throneburg, and sent to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Vietnam, to be a guard dog with the 377th Air Police Squadron.
During an attack in 1966, Tan Son Nut Air Base was hit by a mortar attack by the Viet Cong.
It was Nemo’s job to find any intruders who infiltrated the base, and, upon finding a group hiding near the perimeter, he attacked with Throneburg close behind.
Throneburg and Nemo were injured in the incident, but Nemo was credited with his handler’s survival.
Nemo was later sent home as a war hero, and he worked as a recruitment dog in his retirement.
He died in 1972.
Dustin Lee and Lex in Iraq.
(Photo by L. Rich)
5. Lex, who served as a bomb-sniffing dog in Fallujah, Iraq, and was given an honorary Purple Heart.
Lex, a German Shepherd, was a bomb-sniffing dog in Fallujah, Iraq.
When a mortar attack hit in 2007, Lex was left injured and his handler, Marine Cpl. Dustin Jerome Lee, 20, was killed in Fallujah, Iraq.
Lex recovered from his wounds at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and was awarded an honorary Purple Heart in 2008.
Lee’s family ended up adopting Lex when he took an early retirement.
“We knew that’s what Dustin would have wanted out of this,” Jerome Lee, the slain Marine’s father, told the Associated Press at the time. “He knew that we would take care of Lex and love him, just like our own.”
Lex died in 2012.
A United States Air Force Belgian Malinois.
6. Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, was part of the SEAL team that took down al-Qaida’s longtime leader, Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Cairo was part of the SEAL Team 6 that helped take down al-Qaida’s longtime leader, Osama bin Laden, in a 2011 raid in Pakistan.
Though there are no available photos of Cairo, his story should be known.
According to the Military Times, Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, was trained to stand guard, control crowds, sniff for bombs, and look for booby traps.
During the mission to take down bin Laden in 2011, Cairo was part of a perimeter team, according to an account of the raid from the New Yorker.
Plans reportedly called for Cairo to search for false walls and hidden doors if the al-Qaida leader couldn’t be found.
Former President Barack Obama met the dog when meeting with SEALS who were part of the mission.
Heroic US Marine dog Lucca.
(Photo by Cpl. Jennifer Pirante)
7. Lucca completed more than 400 missions and rooted out more than three dozen explosive devices.
Lucca, a half-German shepherd, half-Belgian Malinois, helped find nearly 40 explosive devices while working as a bomb detector in Afghanistan.
Both German shepherds and Belgian Malinois are known for being extremely smart, aggressive, and loyal.
Lucca served in the military for six years, completing more than 400 missions with no human casualties, according to the Huffington Post.
She lost her leg in a roadside IED explosion in 2012 while she was off-leash, the Military Times reported.
Her handler, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, ran past a known IED to apply a tourniquet and carry her back to safety.
Lucca then retired to California to live with Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Willingham.
“She is the only reason I made it home to my family and I am fortunate to have served with her,” Willingham said at the time. “In addition to her incredible detection capabilities, Lucca was instrumental in increasing morale for the troops we supported.”
She received a Dickin Medal in London in 2016, the highest valor award for animals in the UK.
Wonderful dog, Conan.
(White House photo)
8. Conan was injured while taking down Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group.
A Belgian Malinois named Conan helped take down Islamic State terrorist group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019.
President Donald Trump published a photo of the Conan on Twitter, after announcing he had “declassified a picture of the wonderful dog” after the Pentagon had declined to reveal any information about the dog.
The dog’s name was unknown for days, but Trump later tweeted that the dog’s name was Conan.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said at a news conference that Conan was “slightly wounded” during the mission to take down al-Baghdadi.
Trump had said a day earlier that US forces found al-Baghdadi in Syria hiding in a tunnel with three of his children.
Trump said that while at least one military dog pursued him, al-Baghdadi activated an explosive vest, killing himself and his children.
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
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