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Chips was the most decorated war dog from World War II. Chips was a German Shepherd-Collie-Siberian Husky mix owned by Edward J. Wren of Pleasantville, New York.
During the war, private citizens like Wren donated their dogs for duty. Chips shipped out to the War Dog Training Center, Front Royal, Virginia, in 1942 for training as a sentry dog. He served with the 3rd Infantry Division in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany. His handler was Pvt. John P. Rowell. Chips served as a sentry dog for the Roosevelt-Churchill conference in 1943. Later that year, during the invasion of Sicily, Chips and his handler were pinned down on the beach by an Italian machine-gun team. Chips broke from his handler and jumped into the pillbox, attacking the gunners. The four crewmen were forced to leave the pillbox and surrendered to US troops. In the fight he sustained a scalp wound and powder burns. Later that day, he helped take 10 Italians prisoner.
For his actions during the war, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart; however, these awards were later revoked due to an Army policy preventing official commendation of animals. His unit unofficially awarded him a theater ribbon with an arrowhead for an assault landing, and battle stars for each of his eight campaigns.
Chips was discharged in December 1945 and returned to the Wren family; but was later given to the handler after the visit.
In 1990, Disney made a TV movie based on his life, entitled Chips, the War Dog.
Purple Heart Dog
In 1942, the U.S. Army officially started its K-9 Corps, which featured a legendary canine war hero that was awarded the Purple Heart—amid much controversy.
Dogs have been a part of warfare for as long as people have been fighting each other. But in the United States, military dogs served roles mostly as mascots and messengers up until World War I.
During the Great War, dogs saw an evolving role on the front. One dog, named Stubby, became a national war hero.
Stubby fought in the Argonne, survived gas attacks, and even captured a German Iron Cross, according to tales told about the dog hero. After the war, Stubby met three presidents and was awarded a special medal by General Blackjack Pershing. After Stubby died in 1926, his remains were preserved and sent on to the Smithsonian.
But an organized dog division didn’t emerge until World War II, where there was a mass “volunteer” enlistment of canines in the first-ever K-9 Corps in the military. Actually, the pet owners agreed to lend their dogs to the war effort to perform tasks like patrol duty, mine detection, sentry duty, and message carrying.
The dogs in the first K-9 Corps did eight to 12 weeks of basic training before they were deployed. About 18,000 dogs were accepted into boot camp, but 8,000 didn’t make it to active duty.
According to the Army’s website, the dogs were intended to be used closer to home under command of the Quartermaster Corps. Supply depots and other facilities needed to be protected on the home front. However, in 1943 and 1944, some dogs shipped out for Europe and Asia in 15 dog platoons.
Only seven breeds were used: Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Siberian huskies, farm collies, Eskimo dogs, and Malamutes.
The dogs performed heroically on patrol and in battle. And the top dog, in the K-9 Corps, at least in terms of publicity, was Chips, a Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix donated by Edward J. Wren of Pleasantville, New York.
Chips shipped out in early 1943. He was a guard dog at the Roosevelt-Churchill conference in Casablanca. He then saw battle during the invasion of Sicily, when he broke away from his handler and attacked a machine-gun nest.
The dog was wounded in the attack but flushed out four enemy soldiers, who were captured. Chips later helped to capture 10 enemy combatants on another patrol—on the same day.
As a reward, in November 1943, Chips received a Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, and Purple Heart. But the publicity about Chips and his medals upset a Purple Heart national commander.
William Thomas protested to President Franklin Roosevelt and to the War Department, and it became the subject of discussion in Congress.
Today, it is widely reported that Chips was stripped of his Purple Heart and Silver Star, because he was a dog, but one contemporary account tells a different story
In February 1944, Time magazine reported that Major General James A. Ulio said Chips was allowed to keep his medals, but that no more medals would be awarded to dogs going forward.
In addition, two wire service stories from January 1944 and February 1944 indicate the Chips was awarded the three medals, but at two different times.
The AP reported on January 14, 1944 that Chips had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and that Chips had received the Purple Heart and Silver Star on November 19, 1943.
Then on February 16, 1944, the wire service reported that after a protest from Thomas, he received a letter from the military that indicated that Chips was keeping his Silver Star, but no more medals would be awarded to dogs.
Chips was also well known for another public incident. Later in the war, he was personally congratulated by General Dwight Eisenhower for his heroics in battle.
But when the future president bent down to pet Chips, the dog bit him (as he was trained to do when confronting an unknown person).
Chips only survived seven months after his discharge from the Army at the end of the war in 1945.
In his obituary, it was noted that the reason Chips was sent to the military by his family was that he bit a garbage collector in Pleasantville.
via: Yahoo! News
WWII Dog Hero of 3rd Division
In the predawn hours of July 10, 1943, the 3rd Infantry Division under the command of Maj. Gen. Lucian Truscott landed on the shore of southern Sicily near Licata in Operation Husky. Among the troops that hit the beach was the 3rd Military Police Platoon, 30th Infantry Regiment, containing Pvt. John R. Rowell of Arkansas and his sentry dog, Chips. As dawn broke, the platoon was working its way inland when a machine gun nest hidden in what appeared to be a nearby peasant hut opened fire. Rowell and the rest of the platoon immediately hit the ground. But Chips broke free from his handler and, snarling, raced into the hut. Pvt. Rowell later said, “Then there was an awful lot of noise and the firing stopped.” The soldiers heard someone inside the hut fire a pistol. Roswell said he then “saw one Italian soldier come out with Chips at his throat. I called him off before he could kill the man. Three others followed, holding their hands above their heads.”
Chips, a German shepherd, collie, husky mix, was the most famous and decorated sentry dog in World War II, one of 10,425 dogs that saw service in the Quartermaster Corps’ new “K-9 Corps.” Prior to the K-9 Corps, dogs such as Admiral Wags on the carrier Lexington and World War I canine hero Sgt. Stubby were mascots and had no official function in America’s military.
The K-9 Corps was the culmination of a program begun by the Dogs for Defense, a civilian organization created in January 1942 by a group of notable dog experts and the American Kennel Club. Concerned about the vulnerability of America’s long coastline to infiltration by enemy saboteurs, it offered to provide the Army and Coast Guard with trained sentry dogs. After some initial resistance, the Army authorized an experimental program using 200 dogs. The success of that program caused the Quartermaster General to authorize the acquisition of 125,000 dogs (later reduced). Of the 10,425 dogs that served in the military during the war, most conducted sentry duty along America’s coastline and at military installations. But roughly 1,000 dogs were trained as scout dogs. Chips was one of those dogs.
Chips’ owner was Edward J. Wren of Pleasantville, New York, who enlisted Chips in the Army in August 1942. After training at the War Dog Training Center in Front Royal, Va., he was assigned to Pvt. Rowell. Chips participated in Operation Torch, and was one of three dogs assigned guard duty for the Roosevelt/Churchill Casablanca Conference.
Chips had been wounded in the action near Licata, suffering powder burns and a scalp wound from the pistol fired at close range. Medics treated Chips and released him to Rowell later that day. That night, while on guard duty Chips alerted Rowell of an infiltration attempt by ten Italian soldiers. Together they captured all ten.
Within days the story of Chips’ heroics had swept through the division. Chips was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star. More was to come. The platoon’s commander, Capt. Edward G. Parr put in a recommendation that Chips receive the Distinguished Service Cross for “courageous action in single-handedly eliminating a dangerous machine gun nest and causing surrender of its crew.”
War Department regulations prohibited the awarding of decorations to animals. But in the case of Chips, Truscott’s attitude was “regulations be damned.” He waived them and on November 19 in Italy he personally awarded Chips the Distinguished Service Cross.
The people back home learned of Chips’ heroism in newspaper stories published on July 14, 1944. While most people were thrilled, acclaim was not universal. The next day the War Department released a statement that it was conducting an investigation, noting the War Department regulations. In addition, William Thomas, the national commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, angrily wrote letters to the president, secretary of war, and adjutant general of the U.S. Army protesting that the Purple Heart was a decoration for humans, not animals. Then Congress got into the act. After a debate lasting three months, it decided no more decorations were to be awarded to non-humans adding “appropriate citations may be published in unit general orders.” This meant that at least they would receive honorable discharges.
Though they took away his medals, that didn’t make Chips any less a hero. Among those who honored Chips was Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. But, when Eisenhower leaned down to pet him, Chips, only knowing that Eisenhower was a stranger and possibly stressed from the attention he had been receiving, nipped the general’s hand.
Chips remained with the 3rd Infantry Division throughout the war. Shortly before he was honorably discharged, the men in his platoon unofficially awarded him a Theater Ribbon with arrowhead for an assault landing and eight battle stars. Chips returned home to the Wren family in December 1945.