Private Robert Conroy was training on the fields of Yale University in 1917, when he found a brindle American Pit Bull Terrier mix puppy. He named the puppy “Stubby,” and the pup quickly became the mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division.
Stubby learned the bugle calls, the drills, and even a modified version of the salute. He had a positive effect on the soldiers’ morale, and was allowed to stay in camp, even though animals were forbidden.
Private Conroy smuggled Stubby aboard the SS Minnesota when the division was shipped to France. Stubby was kept hidden in the coal bin until the ship was far out at sea, when he was then brought out on deck. Stubby won the sailors’ hearts, and was smuggled off the ship, but it didn’t take long for Private Conroy’s commanding officer to find out. Stubby gave Conroy’s superior a salute, and he allowed the dog to stay.
Stubby was given special orders to accompany the division to the front lines in 1918, and it didn’t take long for him to become accustomed to the loud rifles and heavy artillery fire.
Stubby’s first battle injury occurred from gas exposure, but he was nursed back to health by a nearby hospital. The injury left him sensitive to the tiniest trace of gas, so when most of the troops were asleep, Stubby could recognize the gas and alert them men, biting the men and rousing them to sound the alarm.
Stubby was also used to help find wounded men in no man’s land. He would stay with the men, barking, until paramedics arrived.
He even found a German soldier mapping out the layout of the Allied trenches, and Stubby bit him and attacked until American soldiers arrived. Stubby was promoted to Sergeant for capturing an enemy spy.
Stubby suffered other battle injuries, to include a grenade attack, but he was transferred to a Red Cross Recovery Hospital for surgery and recovery. When he was well enough to move around, Stubby visited wounded soldiers, making him a great pet therapy dog, as well as soldier.
By the end of the war, Stubby fought in 17 battles. He led the American troops in a pass an review parade. He visited the White House twice, meeting Presidents Harding and Coolidge, as well as a previous visit with President Woodrow Wilson.
Sergeant Stubby was awarded a medal from the Humane Society, as well as membership to the American Legion and the Y.M.C.A.
After his military career, Stubby followed Conroy to Georgetown University Law Center, where he became the Georgetown Hoyas’ team mascot.
On March 16, 1926, Stubby died in Conroy’s arms. His body remains at an exhibit at the Smithsonian. The Pit Bull was also honored with a brick in the Walk of Honor at the U.S. WW1 monument in Kansas City.