Silouette of a soldier and his dog against a sunset backdrop.

Remembering Military Working Dogs on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces. However, it is also important to recognize the courageous canines who have stood alongside our soldiers, offering their loyalty, protection, and unwavering support. These military working dogs have played a crucial role in various conflicts and have saved countless lives. In this post, we will pay tribute to some of the most notable dogs who deserve our recognition and gratitude by remembering military working dogs on Memorial Day.

Famous Military Dogs

Sergeant Stubby

One of the most famous military working dogs is Sergeant Stubby, a Boston Terrier who served in World War I. Stubby participated in 17 battles and was credited with saving his regiment from mustard gas attacks, locating wounded soldiers, and even catching a German spy. His bravery and dedication earned him the rank of Sergeant, making him the first dog to be given a rank in the U.S. Armed Forces [1].


Another remarkable dog was Chips, a German Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix who served in World War II. Chips was trained as a sentry dog and was deployed to North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany. During the invasion of Sicily, Chips attacked an enemy machine gun nest, forcing the surrender of four Italian soldiers. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart for his bravery, although the awards were later revoked due to Army policy [2].


In more recent times, Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, played a vital role in the Navy SEAL operation that led to the capture and elimination of Osama bin Laden in 2011. Cairo’s primary responsibilities included detecting explosives and securing the perimeter during the raid. His handler, Will Chesney, praised Cairo’s bravery and dedication in his book, “No Ordinary Dog: My Partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid” [3].


Lucca, a German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix, served as a specialized search dog with the U.S. Marine Corps for six years. During her tenure, Lucca completed over 400 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, detecting explosives and saving countless lives. In 2012, Lucca lost her leg in an IED blast while on duty in Afghanistan. Despite her injury, she persevered and continued to inspire others. Lucca was awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest honor for animals serving in military conflict [4].


Lastly, we must remember Nemo A534, a German Shepherd who served in the Vietnam War. During an attack on an airbase in 1966, Nemo and his handler, Airman Robert Thorneburg, were both wounded. Despite being shot in the eye and suffering other injuries, Nemo continued to defend his handler, attacking the enemy and preventing them from advancing. Nemo’s bravery allowed Thorneburg to call for reinforcements, ultimately saving many lives [5].

These are just a few examples of the countless dogs who have served alongside our military personnel. They have demonstrated unwavering loyalty, courage, and dedication, often putting their own lives on the line to protect their human companions. As we observe Memorial Day, let us not forget the sacrifices made by these extraordinary animals. They, too, deserve our gratitude, respect, and remembrance.

[1] “Sergeant Stubby.” Connecticut Military Department.
[2] “Chips: Decorated War Hero.” American Kennel Club.
[3] Chesney, Will. “No Ordinary Dog: My Partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid.” St. Martin’s Press, 2020.
[4] “Lucca: A Military Working Dog Hero.” American Humane.
[5] “Nemo A534 – The Hero Dog.” War Dogs.