In honor of Memorial Day, here are some amazing stories about our military heroes, both human and canine.
After Etchberger saved his fellow airmen, he was shot and killed by enemy fighters. His heroics were kept secret for years because the US wasn’t supposed to have troops in Laos during Vietnam. Read the full story here
Even though he’s not a United States military member, I’m still including Tero, the bomb sniffing dog — for saving troops by searching for arms and explosives out on the ground to the forefront of UK troops.
The heroic nine-year-old black labrador twice averted catastrophe by seeking out rigged devices with his handler Sergeant Dave Heyhoe.
Treo is the 63rd animal to receive the Dickin Medal — introduced by animal charity PDSA founder Maria Dickin in 1943 to honour the work of animals in war — and the 27th dog to receive the honour.
Since its introduction it has also been presented to 32 Second World War messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat. Read the full story here
When a suicide bomber crept onto an American military base in Afghanistan in the middle of the night, intent on attacking a barracks where 50 soldiers slept, three stray dogs quickly came to the soldiers’ rescue. The dogs, known by the names Rufus, Target and Sasha, barked to alert the sleeping soldiers of the danger, and bit the terrorist’s leg to hold him back.
The bomber eventually detonated himself, killing one of the dogs and severely injuring Target and another dog, Rufus. Five of the soldiers were injured, but Young said in interviews that he and dozens of others would have been killed had the dogs not stopped the bomber.
Unfortunately this story has a sad ending. The dogs were brought back to the US, and euthanized by mistake. :( Read the full story here.
Desmond T. Doss Sr., 87, died March 23, 2006 as a hero and a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. While under enemy fire on the island of Okinawa, Doss carried 75 wounded soldiers to the edge of a 400-foot cliff and lowered them to safety, according to his citation.
During a later attack, he was seriously wounded in the legs by a grenade. According to the citation, as he was being carried to safety, he saw a more critically injured man and crawled off his stretcher, directing the medics to help the other wounded man. Read the full story here
Sgt Giunta, then 22, and his squad were under fire. His squad leader, Sgt Erick Gallardo, came under fire and was struck in the head. His helmet stopped the bullet but he was knocked flat on his back.
Sgt Giunta ran to the squad leader, and, while dragging him to safety, was shot twice. He was saved by his body armour. After Sgt Gallardo had been pulled him to safety, the two soldiers noticed that the second man in line, Specialist Frank Eckrode, had been downed.
They threw grenades, opened fire and ran to their comrade. As Sgt Gallardo tended to Spc Eckrode’s wounds – he had been shot four times – Sgt Giunta saw his close friend Sgt Joshua Brennan being carried off by two Taliban fighters. Sgt Giunta pursued the enemy under heavy fire across an open clearing. His only cover was the dust kicked up by bullets and grenades. He killed one of the Taliban fighters – a sought-after foe known as Mohammed Tali – and the other fled. Sgt Giunta carried the badly wounded Sgt Brennan to safety, where they remained for half an hour until a medevac helicopter arrived.
Sgt Gallardo began the process of nominating Sgt Giunta for the Medal of Honor from his hospital bed on the night the attack occurred. Read the full story here
Robert Lewis Howard was a highly decorated United States Army soldier and Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War. He was wounded 14 times over 54 months of combat, was awarded 8 Purple Hearts, 4 Bronze Stars, and was nominated for the Medal of Honor three separate times. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on February 22, 2010.
Howard may have been the most highly-decorated American soldier since World War II. His residence was in Texas and he spent much of his free time working with veterans at the time of his death. Semper fi. Read about him here.