US Marine Corps Bomb-Sniffing Dog Receives Top Award For War Animals

news

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.”

Related: How to train your dog to military standards »

Lucca lost her left front leg and suffered burns to her chest as a result of the blast, but recovered quickly after a life-saving surgery.

“Through all of her treatment, and despite the pain she was in, her temperament never changed,” Rodriguez said. “Her fighting spirit was plain to see and I was so proud of how quickly she recovered.”

Lucca is now in the care of her original handler, Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Willingham, who served two tours with Lucca in Iraq before placing her in Rodriguez’s care.

AP photo by Dominic Lipinski

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.

Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.

Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.

Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.

Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."

Read More Show Less
(Lockheed Martin photo)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."

"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.

William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Air Force/TSgt. Dana Flamer)

TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.

Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.

Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."

Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.

Read More Show Less