K-9 Military Dogs You Should Know on K-9 Veterans Day

K9 Veterans Day falls on March 13, 2020. This is a day devoted to the commemoration of American Military War Dogs (MWDs) that have saved millions of lives over the years.

These highly trained animals are so important that if any person abuses, neglects, mishandles, or fails to heed the directions of a trained military dog, the soldiers are subject to maximum federal punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This can include:

  • Forfeiture of all military pay, bonuses, and salaries.
  • Up to a year in confinement for charges related to the abuse or abandonment of an animal. This could extend out for up to 5 years in the case of animal sexual abuse.
  • Forfeiture of all military benefits, including your retirement and healthcare.

Just a Few K-9 Veterans We Should Know

Sergeant Stubby (1916 – March 16, 1926)

k9 veterans day Stubby

Sergeant Stubby was a mixed breed pit bull who served in World War I as the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment until he was assigned to the 26th Division.

He served for 18 months and participated in 17 battles on the Western Front. Named for his short tail, he warned of mustard gas attacks, incoming missile attacks and more. He remains the most decorated dog in military history.

Chips (1940–1946)

German shepherd mix Chips, seen at left getting a treat during WWII, was honored with a medal

Chips was a german shepherd - collie - siberian husky mix who served as a trained sentry dog for the US Army during World War II.

Not only was he vigilant, he was fierce - once attacking a hidden German gun nest on his own!

Smoky (1943 - 02/21/57)

smoky military k9

This tiny 4-lbs yorkshire terrier stood only 7” tall, but is credited with saving over 250 US soldiers.

Smoky served in the South Pacific with the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron, and flew 12 air/sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions. This spirited dog was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars.

She survived 150 air raids on New Guinea and made it through a typhoon at Okinawa. Smoky even parachuted from 30 feet (9.1 m) in the air, out of a tree, using a parachute made just for her!

Judy (1936 – 17 February 1950)

Judy hu 42990 

Judy lived aboard the HMS Gnat stationed on the Yangtze before and during World War II. During her early years aboard, she provided early warning about incoming aircraft. 

After the British declaration of war on Germany, she was transferred to the HMS Grasshopper, which was engaged in the Battle of Singapore, causing the Grasshopper to evacuate for the Dutch East Indies.

The Grasshopper was sunk en route, and Judy was nearly killed having been trapped by a falling row of lockers. She was rescued when a crewman returned to the stricken vessel looking for supplies.

Rags (c. 1916 – March 6, 1936)

Rags, K9 Veteran

Rags was a mixed breed terrier who became the U.S. 1st Infantry Division's dog-mascot in World War I.

This talented pup achieved celebrity war dog status when he saved many lives of those in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. Despite being bombed, gassed and partially blinded, he still managed to deliver a vital message to camp.

His owner and handler at the time, Private James Donovan, was gassed and seriously wounded, eventually succumbing to his injuries in a military hospital at Fort Sheridan. 

Chief, Satan, Roland, Princess and 5,000 other dogs

SP4 Bealock and scout dog Chief 

Chief (pictured) was just one of the many German shepherds stationed in Vietnam. Over 5,000 dogs took part in the Vietnam war - none returned. Yet, every one of these animals were critical to the war effort, saving thousands of American soldier lives.

One such dog named Satan, saved the life of James Voorhees at least three times. Now a chaplain, Voorhees fondly recalls, "I have one distinction no other pastor can say. I can say Satan saved my life at least three times."

It's taken many years for dogs to be formally recognized for their service in the Vietnam war. In 2018, a committee of Vietnam veterans and one Korean War dog handler was formed. Together, they raised nearly $200,000 to erect a memorial to these brave animals. 

Conan (2013 - )

Declassified image of Conan, the dog who chased al-Baghdadi 

Conan, the Belgian Malinois who chased down ISIS killer Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This four-legged hero chased Baghdadi into a dead-end tunnel in Syria, spurring the jihadist to detonate a suicide vest. Fortunately, Conan survived with minimum injuries.

He was recently celebrated at the White House and returned to service in the field. 

These dogs deserve more than our acknowledgement, they deserve our unending respect and a happy place to retire after service. By remembering these K9 veterans, we can work together to make that happen for current and future MWDs.