Chips, a U.S. Army Hero Dog That Served in World War II, Gets Posthumous Medal

Chips, a WWII service dog, gets highest animal bravery honor.
German shepherd mix Chips, seen at left getting a treat during WWII, was honored with a medal in London ceremony attended by John Wren, right, whose family donated their dog to military service from 1942 to 1945. PDSA

An American service dog that singlehandedly attacked a hidden German gun nest during World War II has been awarded Great Britain's most prestigious medal for animal bravery.

Chips, a mix of German shepherd, collie and husky, posthumously received the Dickin Medal for his canine bravery at a ceremony Monday that was sponsored by the veterinary charity PDSA.

The honor was accepted by John Wren, 76, of New York. His father donated Chips to the military in 1942.

Wren was 4 years old when Chips arrived back home in a wooden crate, having been honorably discharged after three years of stellar service.

The dog's most courageous effort occurred in 1943, as he and his handler, Pvt. John Rowell, were part of the 1943 invasion of Sicily. Chips broke free from Rowell on the beach and ran toward machine gun fire that was pinning down Allied service members.

Chips attacked a hidden gun nest, biting German soldiers and pulling a smoking machine gun from its base. According to Rowell's account of the pre-dawn raid, Chips grabbed one of the Germans by the neck and dragged him from the pill box. His comrades followed with their hands up.

The dog suffered burns and scalp wounds, but was otherwise fine. 

"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 U.S. Army," PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said Monday.

Chips also served as a guard dog during a conference between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He also helped capture 10 enemy soldiers on the same day he attacked the machine gun nest.

Chips meeting Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945.
Chips meeting Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945. PDSA

He was awarded the Silver Star, a Distinguished Service Cross and a Purple Heart during the war. But after controversy erupted over giving military service awards to animals, the practice was suspended.

Chips gained notoriety for other acts during the conflict, including a public meeting with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945. When the future president bent down to pet the service dog to thank him for his bravery, Chips bit him.

Unbeknownst to Eisenhower, the dog had been trained to clamp down on humans he didn't know.

But when Chips died just seven months after returning home to Pleasantville, N.Y., his obituary stated his family sent him into military service because he had bitten a garbage collector.

RELATED STORIES

Service Dog Dropout Now Finds His Niche as an Emotional Support Dog

Duchess Kate Middleton Gives Puppy a Royal Welcome as He Becomes a Service Dog

Watch These Tiny Puppies Open Doors and Deliver Mail as They Train to Become Service Dogs