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WWII dog gets posthumous award

A US Army dog who protected the lives of his platoon during the invasion of Sicily in 1943, has been posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal – widely known as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Chips, a German Shepherd-Husky-cross, has been recognised for his key role during the beach landings on the Mediterranean island. He and his handler, Private Rowell, were attached to the Third Infantry Regiment of the American Seventh Army.

As well as his heroics on the battlefield, Chips served as sentry at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, where prime minister Winston Churchill and US president Franklin D Roosevelt met to map out the Allied Forces’ strategy for the next phase of the war. Chips met both leaders while he performed his protection duties.

Chips’ posthumous medal was presented by the veterinary charity, PDSA, on Monday 15 January: the 75th anniversary of the Casablanca Conference. The presentation took place at the Churchill War Rooms, London. US Army Attaché, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Throop and Military Working Dog Ayron, received the medal on Chips’ behalf.

L to R: Lt Col Alan Throop, SSgt Jeremy Mayerhofer, MWD Ayron with Chips PDSA Dickin Medal, PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin, Robin Hutton, John Wren

Also present was John Wren, who was just four years old when Chips – John’s family pet – returned from the war effort. John, now age 76, and his wife Sharon travelled from the United States to witness the presentation.

The medal was introduced by PDSA’s founder, Maria Dickin CBE, in 1943. It is the highest award any animal can achieve while serving in military conflict.

Jan McLoughlin, PDSA director general, said “Chips was a real war hero. His actions saved many lives as a US platoon came under fierce attack. It has taken over seven decades but Chips can now finally take his place in the history books as one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the US Army.

“His tenacity and devotion to duty saved lives on the day in question, running into the line of fire to thwart enemy attempts to attack his platoon. His heroics are thoroughly deserving of the highest recognition. It is an honour to award Chips the PDSA Dickin Medal.”

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