Stubby had a harsh early life, being a stray pit bull dog and wandering the streets in search of food; that until he became a part of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 26th (Yankee) Division.
While training for combat on the grounds of Yale University in 1917, Private J. Robert Conroy found a brindle mutt with a short tail that was searching for scraps of food. He developed a fondness for the dog, naming him in accordance to his humble personality and constantly wagging little tail: Stubby!
He quickly became the mascot of the regiment, as he learned the bugle calls, the drills, and even a modified dog salute by putting his right paw on his right eyebrow when a salute was executed by his comrades.
Stubby had an extremely positive effect on the morale of the soldiers, and he was allowed to remain in the camp.
When the Yankee Division got orders to ship to France, Stubby somehow managed to find his way aboard. When he was discovered by the commanding officer, Stubby quickly gave him the salute, and won his heart! He was allowed to stay!
He was the official mascot, served his country for 18 months and saw action in four offensives and 17 different battles, being critically wounded during a chemical attack.
The 102nd Infantry reached the front lines on the 5 February 1918 and Stubby soon became accustomed to the loud rifles and heavy artillery fire. His first battle injury occurred from gas exposure and he was taken to a nearby hospital and brought back to life.
He learned to warn his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers the fields of battle and thanks to his hearing, let his unit know when to duck and cover from the incoming artillery.
When he returned to the battle field, he developed a sensitivity for tracing gas, so when the Division was attacked early in the morning when everybody was asleep, he recognized it and ran through the trench barking and biting the soldier in order to wake them up.
He was able to distinguish the English language from German and helped to locate and lead the paramedics to the wounded men between the trenches, saving their lives.
After catching a German spy in the Yankee Division’s trenches by the seat of his pants, holding him there until American soldiers found him, Stubby was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, the first dog ever to be promoted in combat!
He managed to capture a German spy mapping out the layout of the Allied trenches, all by himself. As the soldier ran, he bit him on the legs and attacked him, until US troops arrived.
For this act of bravery, Stubby was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, the first dog to be promoted in combat!
Later on, Stubby was injured during a hand grenade attack. Heavily wounded in the foreleg and chest, he was rushed to a field hospital and then transferred to a Red Cross Recovery Hospital for additional surgery.
When Stubby recovered and was able to move around at the hospital, he visited wounded soldiers, boosting their morale.
After the war, Stubby and the Yanks returned home and led parades through New York, Boston, and Washington D.C. like a true hero and became the most decorated dog in U.S. Army history!
After the war, Stubby returned home and led parades through New York, Boston, and Washington DC. He also met three U.S. presidents (Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge) and received numerous medals for his heroism, including a medal from the Humane Society which was presented by General John Pershing, the Commanding General of the United States Armies.
When his owner J. Robert Conroy began studying law at Georgetown University, Stubby became the mascot of the Georgetown Hoyas.
Sgt. Stubby died in 1926 in his sleep, and his remains were donated to the Smithsonian Institution, where he is currently featured as part of the “Price of Freedom” exhibit in the National Museum of American History.
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