Exhibit on Sgt. Stubby showcases war dog's efforts

Published on Monday, 31 July 2017 21:46
Written by Lorenzo Burgio


BRISTOL - The local roots of a famous four-pawed World War I veteran named Sgt. Stubby will be highlighted as an animated movie.

The legacy and heroism of Stubby, a stray dog, made such an impact and became so well-known that an animated movie will be coming out in April of 2018 to keep his story alive and coincide with the 100th year anniversary of American involvement in WWI.

Fun Academy Motion Pictures is producing the movie. In a press release, writer and executive producer Richard Lanni said, “2018 marks the 100th anniversary of American involvement in the WWI, leading up to the armistice in November. Our film will be part of the global conversation about the Great War and remembering those who served.”

“Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” will feature Helena Bonham Carter, Logan Lerman and Gérard Depardieu performing voiceovers. The movie will depict the relationship between Stubby and Corporal Robert Conroy, who is from New Britain.

Their relationship started when the U.S. began to enter the war and mobilize National Guard troops in 1917.

As the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th Yankee Division trained on the fields of Yale University in New Haven, a stray, brindle dog of an uncertain breed hung around the grounds of the university and watched the soldiers train and drill before they were set to ship out.

The dog slowly began winning over the soldiers’ hearts. One of those soldiers was Conroy, who developed a fondness for Stubby.

When the time came for the infantry to ship out to France, Conroy smuggled the dog that he named Stubby onto the USS Minnesota, explained Mike Thomas, president of the Memorial Military Museum in Bristol where Conroy and Stubby are featured in the “Over Here, Over There, Bristol in WWI” exhibit.

“When the dog was detected in France, the commanding officer allowed him to stay after receiving a salute from the terrier,” said Thomas.

Stubby soon received a uniform specifically designed for him. A photo of Stubby wearing his uniform is featured in the museum and is covered with different metals and awards he won. One of those awards was a gold medal from the Humane Educator Society, according to Thomas.

“He learned the bugle calls, the drills and even a modified dog salute as he put his right paw on his right eyebrow when a salute was executed by his fellow soldiers,” said the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in “The Price of Freedom” exhibit that featured Stubby.

He quickly became a vital part of the 102nd Infantry. Stubby was able to track down wounded men and warned soldiers of gas attacks before they realized it was coming, giving them more time to strap on a gas mask.

It was even noted in the Smithsonian exhibit that Stubby caught a German soldier that attempted to map the layout of the Allied trenches.

The German soldier, who was in an Allied camp, called to the dog but Stubby knew something was wrong and began to bite his legs, trip him and continued to bark until soldiers from his infantry arrived.

For this, Stubby was promoted to Sergeant of the 102nd infantry and became the first dog to be ranked in the U.S. Armed Forces, according to the Smithsonian.

Stubby had been through a lot with his infantry in the 17 battles he fought in Europe. He had been gassed and received a large amount of shrapnel in his chest from a grenade explosion.

Luckily the dog pushed through and was brought back to the U.S. by Conroy.

Upon his return, Stubby received many more medals and awards for his heroism and even met Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge. Also, when Conroy studied law at Georgetown University, Stubby became the mascot for the Georgetown Hoyas.

Unfortunately, in 1926 Stubby passed away and an obituary was published in the New York Times. Conroy passed away in 1987 at the age of 95.

Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at lburgio@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Arts, General News on Monday, 31 July 2017 21:46. Updated: Monday, 31 July 2017 21:49.