A Legacy of Honor

I come from a long line of patriots. Among them is American Naval Commander John Paul Jones, born in Scotland, who helped establish the United States Navy during the Revolutionary War. (He was my third cousin seven times removed on my father’s side.) World War I saw my paternal grandfather James Mackenzie Holmes in action with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. His son, my father, served in the Army Air Corps during the next World War, as did my maternal uncle Douglas Hilgerson who was part of the legendary Merrill’s Marauders during that war. My own time in uniform came a year after the fall of Saigon, with service through the Cold War years and the first Gulf War.

Over the centuries, those in uniform were often supported by dogs. There are countless stories of canines who, throughout history, saw action in the military lines. Of these, perhaps the most famous is Stubby, a stray dog of uncertain origin  who is thought to be the most decorated canine in American history. Digital publisher We Are The Mighty relates this story:

In 1917, Stubby joined a group of American soldiers training for the trenches of World War I. He deployed with the men overseas and proved himself in battle multiple times, waking soldiers as he sensed incoming artillery attacks and infantry assaults that human sentries hadn’t yet detected.

His most heroic moment came when he found and seized a German spy moving near the American position. He bit into the German’s pants and raised a ruckus, holding the spy in place until the infantrymen could relieve him of his prisoner.

Despite being caught in multiple gas attacks, Sgt. Stubby survived the war and the supreme commander of American Forces in World War I, Gen. John Pershing, personally awarded him a gold medal in 1921 for his efforts.