Veteran dog who served more than 400 US missions honoured with top medal

Washington: A US Marine Corps’ German shepherd that lost a leg sniffing out a roadside bomb in Afghanistan was awarded the world’s highest honour for service dogs.

Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham with Lucca. Pic/PDSA
Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham with Lucca. Pic/PDSA

Lucca, who served US troops during more than 400 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan over a six-year span, received the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal at the Wellington Barracks in London. Lucca is the first Marine Corps dog to receive the medal, considered the top honour for war animals around the world.

There were no human casualties during Lucca’s patrols. Her career ended in March 2012 when she lost her leg and suffered burns from a bombing in Afghanistan.

Her handler, Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham said it was an “incredible honour” to receive the award.

Did you know?
Since the medal was introduced in 1943, it has been awarded to dozens of dogs and World War II messenger pigeons, as well as three horses and a cat. Diesel, a French police dog who was killed in the raid to capture terrorists behind the Paris attacks, will also receive the medal this year.

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