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Tag: john robert conroy

New animated film tells story of Stubby, the most decorated dog of World War 1

The story of Stubby, a stray dog who was sneaked into Europe by U.S. soldiers and went on to become the most decorated dog of World War I, will be told in a new animated film being released this month.

Stubby was in the trenches during 17 battles, where he was injured in a gas attack and later used his keen nose to give troops early warning of chemical shellings. He even had his own custom-made gas mask.

He has been described as everything from a pit bull to a Boston terrier, but his heroics have never been disputed.

A new film, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” opens April 13, according to the Associated Press

Stubby was found on the Yale campus.

He was adopted in 1917 J. Robert Conroy, of New Britain, while he was training in New Haven.

When Conroy shipped out to France, Stubby was smuggled aboard the USS Minnesota in an overcoat.

He became the mascot of the 102nd Regiment by charming officers with his ability to salute, a trick which Conroy taught him.

He also would stand by injured soldiers on the battlefield and alert medics by barking. He was credited with capturing a German soldier he discovered behind the Allied lines, biting him on the rear end and holding on until help arrived.

“What I think meant the most to my grandfather is that Stubby took some of the edge off what was a horrific war,” said Conroy’s grandson, Curt Deane. “There was just an absolute comfort that soldiers got from seeing him. He was, in fact, the first service dog.”

stubbyAfter he returned from the war, Stubby became famous and toured the country. He posed for photos with celebrities and veterans and met three presidents, Deane said.

Stubby died in 1926. His hide was placed over a plaster cast and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

Director Richard Lanni says he tried to be as authentic as possible when telling the story of Stubby.

The filmmakers have partnered with Humane Society of the United States and approximately 90 other regional and national animal organizations to help promote the adoption of stray dogs.

The film features the voices of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu.

(Photos: Stubby in an April, 1919 homecoming parade for World War I veterans in Hartford, courtesy Connecticut State Library, via AP)

Stubby’s tale: When pit bulls were heroes

Given the Pentagon’s decision to ban pit bulls and other “dangerous” dog breeds from Army housing, we thought it would be a good time to revisit Stubby, the stray pit bull who became the most decorated canine soldier of World War 1.

At war’s end, Stubby was treated like a hero. Doors were opened for him, as opposed to being slammed in his face. Today, in light of a recently approved Pentagon policy, soldiers returning home — if they have a pit bull, Rottweiler, chow or Doberman Pinscher in their family — won’t be allowed to keep them if they live on a military base. (Thanks for fighting for our “freedom,” though.)

It’s just the latest breed-specific slap in the face to pit bulls, a breed that once served not just in battle (Stubby saw action in 17), but as corporate mascots (Nipper for RCA Victor) and TV show characters (Petey on “Our Gang”).

Stubby, though he entered the armed forces surreptitiously, was the only dog to be promoted to “Sergeant” through combat.

Stubby was found on the Yale campus — parts of which were being used as a training encampment — in 1917. He was taken in by John Robert Conroy and other soldiers, marched alongside them through training and, when time came to ship out to France, was smuggled aboard the USS Minnesota in an overcoat.

Overseas, he served as a morale-booster, sentry and more.

In April 1918, Stubby, along with the 102nd Infantry, participated in the raid on the German held town of Schieprey. As the Germans withdrew they threw hand grenades at the pursing allies, one of which wounded Stubby in the foreleg.

In the Argonne, Stubby was credited with ferreting out a German spy and holding on to the seat of his pants until soldiers arrived to complete the capture.

Stubby eventually ended up in a hospital when his master, Corporal J. Robert Conroy, was wounded. After doing hospital duty, he and Conroy returned to their unit, and served for the remainder of the way.

At war’s end, he was smuggled back home.

Upon his return, he was made a lifetime member of the American legion. He marched in every legion parade and attended every legion convention from the end of the war until his death. He met three presidents — Wilson, Harding and Coolidge.

In 1921 General Pershing, commander of American Forces during the War, awarded Stubby a gold hero dog’s medal that was commissioned by the Humane Education Society.

One New York City hotel, the Grand Hotel Majestic, lifted its ban on dogs so that Stubby could stay there enroute to one of many visits to Washington.

When Conroy went to Georgetown to study law, Stubby went along and served as mascot for the football team. Some say his halftime antics — he would push a football around the field with his nose — was the origin of the halftime show.

Stubby died in 1926. His obituary in the New York Times ran three columns wide for half a page.

His remains were mounted by a taxidermist and presented for display at the Smithsonian. From 2000 to 2003, he was loaned to the Connecticut National Guard Armory, where he was exhibited for three years.

All that history seems to be lost on the Pentagon — as does that of Rottweilers and Dobermans who have served the country, and continue to.

If remembering Stubby’s life isn’t enough to persuade the Pentagon that their action was rash, ill-conceived and discriminatory, then they should borrow from another chapter of his legacy, that being the last one:

They should take their new policy and stuff it.

(Photos and source material: Connecticut Military Department)