Chips getting Red Cross doughnut

The following story is taken from the web site of CBC’s radio show, “As It Happens”:  The tent in the picture is very similar to the ones Grandpa Knowlton would have worked in.  The letters “ARC” written on the side of the tent were for “American Red Cross”.

 

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According to U.S. soldiers, the German shepherd-husky mix raced into an Italian machine-gun nest in 1942, attacking an enemy soldier by the throat and pulling the gun from its mount.

“The soldiers were being pinned down on a beach … and he broke loose from his handler. It wasn’t his job to do that kind of thing. He was a sentry dog,” Wren said.

“But he broke loose and went after the people in the machine-gun nest and single-handedly got them to give up and come out asking for mercy.”

Previous medals rescinded

Chips suffered scalp wounds and powder burns in the battle but survived the war, returning to his owners in Pleasantville, N.Y.

After the battle, Chips was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

The awards were later rescinded because army policy didn’t allow animals to receive medals.

Chips

Chips is pictured here with his Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart — all of which were rescinded because of an army policy against giving awards to animals. (PDSA)

“He got a lot of bad press over the years for being a rogue and being dangerous as far as the people were concerned,” Wren said.

“They didn’t like the fact that he’d gotten medals and things like that. So it really made me feel great to see him finally receive some recognition as a special creature — which, in our view, he was.”

Famous friends

Hundreds of dogs were used in the war — many of them donated by American families.

“When the call came for this new idea they had of bringing dogs into the service, my parents knew that we had a very smart, very strong, very powerful dog, and that he was young and that he would be a great candidate,” Wren said.

“I know it was difficult  for my mother and father to make this decision because they loved him dearly … but they felt it was a very important thing for the country for them to donate and do what they can to help the effort.”

Eisenhower

The story goes that Chips bit Gen. Eisenhower’s hand. (PDSA)

The medal was awarded on the 75th anniversary of the Casablanca Conference, at which British prime minister Winston Churchill and U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt plotted wartime strategy.

Chips served as a sentry at the conference and met both leaders.

The dog also once met Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower — but reportedly bit his hand.

“His response was, ‘That’s OK. I understand that’s what you’re trained to do,'” Wren said.

A soldier’s best friend

Chip died of kidney failure about a year after he came home.

The stories Wren has of the dog were passed down from his parents and the animal’s first army handler, Pte. John Rowell, who exchanged letters with Wren’s mother about Chips for years after the war.

good boy

Wren has heard many stories about Chips’ heroism during the war. (PDSA)

Rowell wrote that he was heartbroken when Chips died.

“He said that Chips and he and slept together an awful lot and that Chips had saved his life many times,” Wren said.

“He lost his best friend.”

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