Marine Dog – Lucca

Two Heroes!

Two Heroes!

Marine dog, Lucca, was given a wonderful tribute in the Parade Sunday magazine.  After more than 400 missions in Afghanistan, no one had been hurt by an IED when they were with her.  She was the only one that the Green Berets felt comfortable hugging after a tough day.

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Mamma Lucca, as she is nicknamed, was injured herself.  Handler Col. Juan “Rod” Rodriguez quickly applied a tourniquet and she was air-lifted to one veterinary team after another in all-out attempts to save her life.  They succeeded, but Lucca lost her left-front leg in the action.  You can see her honorary Purple Heart on her harness.  Today she lives with her original trainer, Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham and his family.  She continues to serve at VA hospitals and in schools.

Could someone please explain to me WHY this Hero’s Purple Heart is considered HONORARY??

If anyone is interested in adopting one of these dogs, check into – US War Dogs.org.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Heroes R.I.P.

Heroes R.I.P.

Stanley “Stosh” Bargy – Mattydale, NY; US Navy, Korea

G. Hayden Green – Anchorage, AK; US Army, Korea

Robert Harris – Plymouth, IN; USMC, Korea

Eugene Humphries – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, Aleutians & PTO

James Novak, Sr – Olathe, KS; US Army, WWII

Winfield Ruder – Wappingers Falls, NY; Merchant Marines, WWII

George Tillman – Perry, FL; US Army, WWII & Korea, SSgt.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 29, 2014, in First-hand Accounts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. I think a dog is very good for solders and love your story

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dropped in from the blogparty at Chicago Files. Respect to the dog heroes! There are some interesting military cat photos out there, mainly cats on warships, though I have seen a few others in landbased wartime photos, that might interest some people–like me. Could not find any here. At any rate, this is a great site you have going, albeit, a bit overwhelming with material at first glance. Good job!

    Like

    • Cher did have a terrific idea with that block party of hers!! I’m sure we can locate some kitty humor if that’s what you like. I don’t usually because there are quite a few cat sites out there that do a great job at it.
      This site can be overwhelming at first glance. If the Pacific War history is of any interest to you, I would suggest starting at the Open Letter to All and continuing from there. Nice to meet you, Greg – we have a great bunch of regulars here you might be interested in meeting too.
      https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/open-letter-to-all/

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  3. What a great little soldier. As I read the word ‘honorary’ it did stick out in my mind. That little lady sure deserves the real deal. Her team must have felt that they were being taken care of by an angel.

    Many thanks for sharing Lucca’s story – the photos are wonderful.

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  4. Wow, these images are great!

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  5. My sincere thanks for sharing heroism of a God’s creation here an animal, sent here as a savior due to its special trait of smell – in fact enhanced through training. Such examples are rare – even surpassing the humans. Laudable indeed.

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  6. Poignant!… And sometimes one wonders why dogs are men’s best friends!.
    Best wishes to you, Aquileana ;d

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  7. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    I understand ‘honorary’ but I would think Mamma Lucca deserves a full fledged Purple Heart like any other military member. She did the work and sacrificed a limb in that duty.

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  8. A great tribute to a very outstanding dog, its great to know she has a good home and is well cared for.
    Sadly the rules at the time in Vietnam did not allow our dogs to be bought home.
    A number of handlers farewelled their dogs at the departure airstrip, the dogs were put down.
    Regards
    Ian

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  9. I’m not into animals (yeah, I know, I know. Weird, mean…lol) but this is one of fav posts here! Precious.

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  10. So glad she got a good loving home after all she went through – that’s all dogs really want is to please us and be loved in return…not medals. I’ve seen mine detection dogs in action and we owe them so much! Thanks for sharing

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    • Their abilities amaze me! Lucca is an outstanding dog and soldier and I used her story to keep their memories alive for these tributes as well. Thanks for coming by here, Carol.

      Like

  11. This one got me right in heart where there is a special place for dogs.

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    • I would be disappointed if it hadn’t. One look at that face, and I knew I’d be doing a post on her – hadn’t even read the story yet! Thanks for stopping by, Jim.

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  12. She is so beautiful! Honorary? A Purple Heart is for the wounded and she was wounded. That’s a real Purple Heart! She’s precious!

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  13. Does anyone else think Lucca looks proudly like Rin Tin Tin? What an amazing dog to give such spirit and love to the war effort and our servicemen. Btw, all these comments, Toni. Consider writing about animals again or was it heroism in Afghsnistan that was the pull? Both?

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    • You have a good eye, Amanda. I know you thought you were talking to Toni, but I answered anyway – have a great day and thank you for reading – GP Cox

      Like

  14. What a fantastic post about a veteran! Thank you for sharing her story … I miss getting the Parade on Sundays!

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    • So glad you enjoyed it, Cindi. Personally I don’t usually find the Parade as good as it used to be, it kinda changed. But this was a hit – who could argue with a Hero?

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  15. Wonderful story, and I love the photos, particularly the absolute joy of the tummy rub.

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  16. Good question regarding “Honorary” Purple Heart – she did the job of “men”! “Men” get Purple Hearts. Love this little tribute gp

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  17. The Purple Heart is probably considered “honorary” because Lucca is “just” a dog, not a human. Never mind that she served with honor was wounded in the line of duty and deserves more than just “honorary”. Dogs have served as long as we’ve been fighting wars, horses have too, we just don’t seem to be able to extend our concept of soldier to more than a human.

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    • I found it strange that I did not see a rank or any other medals mentioned for her, but other “Just dogs” and “just horses” have received them in the past. Hopefully it was merely an oversight of the reporter.

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  18. They also serve who only sniff and bark … and growl, and frolic, and shake hands (sounds a lot like The Spouse) …

    As for the ‘honorary’—did she have papers? Rank? Service record? Is she on any kind of pension or benefit?

    More to the point: do the pencil pushing persons making these decisions ever (r) ever serve at the front? I suspect not …

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  19. Great tribute to one of those who seldom get recognition. Keep up the great work!

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  20. Thank you so much for a great post about a great dog. She deserved that medal. Woof!

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  21. What a great story. These are wonderful animals. Their handlers seem to always understand that they’re soldiers, just like ‘the guy next to me’. I love these stories.

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  22. I was recently looking at animals used during WWI and was fascinated by them. Your post on Lucca exemplifying how invaluable they are was perfect!

    http://www.vintag.es/2014/09/black-and-white-pictures-of-animals-in.html

    Like

  23. I know a former dog handler in Iraq. These dogs are amazing, they are saving lives and deserve all the honors. Thank you for posting!

    Like

  24. Reblogged this on Freedom For Cetaceans.

    Like

    • My apologies for this Thank you being so late. You and medievaltaku were both sitting in the Spam folder! I greatly appreciate the reblog and I do sincerely hope your readers liked it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Lucca!!! Yay for you …..

    Like

    • Wow, I skip one day checking my Spam folder and you and Adam Hughes were both sitting there. My apologies for the reblog THANK YOU being so late! I greatly appreciate you spreading the word on these brave animals.

      Like

  26. Reblogged this on Masako and Spam Musubi and commented:
    Man, this got my eye plumbing leaking…

    Like

  27. Darn you, gpcox… You knew this would get me eye plumbing a-leakin’…

    Like

  28. Reblogged this on Toni Andrukaitis and commented:
    Amazing story of heroism.

    Like

  29. Amazing story. Unwavering loyalty and sacrifices made by all, including the canine variety.

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  30. Wonderful blog. Our dog, Abby, while not a war dog, is a three-legged dog. Her courage and cheerful acceptance of disability is an inspiration.

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  31. Everybody loves a doggie tale. 🙂

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  32. A fascinating post of an incredible animal. I’ve heard of many animals, dogs, pigeons and of course horses that served throughout the war (in fact all wars) without faltering or fear. Even today they protect and risk their lives and deserve a good life once their service is over. 400 missions is just amazing!

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  33. What our services ought to commit to doing is bringing every single canine back home with our men and women in uniform. Leave no man behind ought to apply to every single dog that has been a part of soldiers’ lives while deployed. Their lives are as valuable as ours and they are not disposable.

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    • My sentiments exactly, Eric, you said it perfectly. If anyone is interested in adopting one of these dogs, they can go to, US War Dogs. org I appreciate you sharing.

      Like

  34. Thank you for sharing this article.

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  35. Wow, 400 missions! I am amazed and all that they do. So glad that the handler was able to bring her home. She certainly deserves the Purple Heart.

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  36. 400 missions?? Works like a dog

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Aawww. Great post. Lucca is a sweetie. 🙂

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  38. Oh my goodness. Mamma Lucca. Sometimes words are so inadequate. Thank you for the recognition our service dogs seldom get; it was very moving.

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  39. I read Lucca’s story, just yesterday morning. There was another great recent service dog story in National Geographic.

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    • I don’t get NG myself, my father-in-law has handed down so many of the older ones, I’m still going thru them. Will you be making a post out of it?

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      • It was in the June ’14 issue. the complete article was entitled, “THE DOGS OF WAR.” The lead in sentence–“Out in front of America’s troops, combat canines and their handlers lead the way onto the most dangerous battlefields on earth.” The entire piece is almost thirty pages long. It would have to be condensed to make a blog piece. Taking part of the story–specifically, the story of Marine Corporal Jose Armenta, Third Recon. Brigade Afghanistan, and his canine “Zenit.” would be interesting.

        Like

        • I read about that book in the Parade article. I’d love to read it, but I’ll have to stock up on boxes of tissues first! Thanks for sharing about Cpl. Armenta and Zenit, Adam – wish I could blog about them ALL.

          Like

  40. What a wonderful, lovely dog!

    In both the British Army and Air Force, pigeons were extensively used throughout WWII. Members of Bomber Command would view certain pigeons as lucky…….

    “Pigeons seem to enjoy flying in aircraft, but when there is trouble they are as liable to “shock” and fatigue as human beings. They are then, taken off operations and given a rest. One given leave recently, named Bronzey, had been on 199 R.A.F. operations before the Halifax bomber it was in caught fire, and Bronzey, although unhurt, showed symptoms of shock.”

    Known officially as Squadron-Leader Snow White, a carrier pigeon belonging to an Australian Lancaster squadron has more war flights to her credit than 90 per cent of the R.A.F. bomber crews: Her luck in over 100 operations has been so remarkable that there is always a rush to get her after briefing.

    Her airman keeper says “Snow White has bags of air sense, and always knows when an operation is pending long before we do. She gets quite excited in her cage.” During a recent night raid on Berlin, Snow White laid an egg, “an occurrence which happens fairly often over enemy territory.”

    Try “http://www.war44.com/war44-general-forums/1900-army-pigeon-service.html”

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Thanks for passing this one along. She deserved that Purple Heart.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Intermission (10) – Buddies in war | Pacific Paratrooper

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