A bomb-sniffing U.S. Marine Corps German shepherd who survived an IED blast while on patrol in Afghanistan was awarded the world’s highest honor for service dogs on April 5.
The 12-year-old canine, named Lucca, joins a small pantheon of war animals who’ve received the prestigious People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals Dicken Medal, which has been awarded to dozens of dogs, messenger pigeons, three horses, and a cat since it was introduced in 1943. She is the first U.S. Marine Corps dog to receive the medal, considered the world’s top military honor for non-humans.
"Lucca's conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty makes her a hugely deserving recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal,” Jan McLoughlin, director general of the PDSA, said during a special ceremony at the Wellington Barracks in London. “Her ability and determination to seek out arms and explosives preserved human life amid some of the world's fiercest military conflicts."
A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Lucca completed over 400 missions with American troops over the course of a six-year career. No American casualties were sustained on any of the patrols she was on.
Life on the line ended for Lucca when she was struck by a roadside bomb during a routine patrol in Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province in March 2012.
“The explosion was huge and I immediately feared the worst for Lucca,” Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, who was Lucca’s handler when she was injured, told The Telegraph. “I ran to her and saw her struggling to get up. I picked her up and ran to the shelter of a nearby tree line, applied a tourniquet to her injured leg, and called the medics to collect us.”
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Hoping to push for clean-up and to hold polluters accountable, members of Congress created a task force Wednesday to help constituents nationwide who have contended with drinking water contaminated by chemicals used on military bases.
U.S. Marine Corps recruits with Platoon 4030, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, perform rifle manual marching movements during an initial drill evaluation June 25, 2018, on Parris Island, S.C. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Dana Beesley)
An AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopter lands during a combined arms demonstration as part of South Carolina National Guard Air & Ground Expo 2009 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Oct. 10, 2009. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine)
Welcome to Confessions Of, an occaisional series where Task & Purpose's James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, billet, or a tour overseas. Are you in an interesting assignment and think you might have something to share? Email email@example.com with your story.
"Nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."