The Story Of "Red" Canine Veteran Of Normandy Invasion

This story was in the latest issue of Reminisce Magazine & was submitted by WWII vet George Coanda. It's a great story!


"When the Battle of the Bulge occurred, in December 1944, I was in the infantry on the West Coast, training for the Philippines invasion.


In short order, a buddy, Paul Shockley, and I were transported by train to a camp near Boston. A few weeks later, we were on the Rhine River and were in Austria when the war ended in Europe.


After Germany surrendered, we were moved to a village a few miles from Heidelberg, Germany. We were invited to a USO show in Heidelberg and hopped on a transport truck. While waiting for the rest of the platoon, we noticed a dog :woof: walking by.


The dog jumped on the truck and rode into Heidelberg with us, then took off. No big deal, we thought. Just another stray.


When the show was over, we went back to our billet and, to our surprise, the dog was there waiting for us, I never did figure out how he returned.


We fed him and tried to see if he was trained. If he was, we figured , he was probably housebroken, and we'd keep him.


Of course, since he was a German dog, we gave him commands in German, but he didn't react. Someone else, knowing better, gave him commands in English, and the dog responded beautifully. So we adopted "Red" as our mascot.


A few weeks later, we were told to pack up for furlough home before going to the Pacific for the anticipated invasion of Japan. What to do with Red? A medic agreed to give Red a shot of morphine to temporarily put him to sleep and stuff him in the division band's bass drum to smuggle him aboard ship. If that didn't work, one of our officers had a brother in Paris who'd meet us at the port. If we couldn't get the dog aboard ship, the brother would take him back to Paris.


When we arrived in the port of Le Havre, the medic said he didn't know how much morphine he could safely give Red, so we turned to Plan B. Paul & I walked up the gangplank with Red between us, with little hope we'd keep him. At the top of the gangplank were 3 sailors and an Army colonel.


'Sorry, guys, no animals allowed," one of the sailors said.


Paul & I started to turn around when we heard the colonel say, 'Soldier, is that an ARMY dog?' 'Yes, SIR!' we replied. The colonel then turned to the sailors and said, 'Sailors, is this an ARMY ship?' They said it was.


The colonel then turned to us and said, 'This is an ARMY ship. That is an ARMY dog. Welcome aboard!'


That was as close as I ever came to kissing a colonel. :pdt34:


When we were a few days out of port, Red suddenly lunged through the crowd on deck. Paul, who had the leash, almost had his arm torn off. Red had found his original owner. We learned the other soldier had gotten Red as a pup while he was training with a Ranger battalion in Texas. The dog became the unit mascot and accompanied the Ranger battalion during the Normandy Invasion.


Red had way more combat time than Paul & I put together! He had even been wounded by shrapnel from a German artillery shell and had a scar to prove it.


After V-E Day, Red & his owner ended up in the 86th Division and in a company with a captain :pdt33: who would not allow the soldier to keep the dog. That's why Red was wandering loose when he found us.


Since Red's original owner and I lived in cities and Paul lived on a farm, we agreed that Paul should keep the dog.


By the time that we landed in NY, Red sported a jacket made from an Army blanket. The jacket had the division patch and a PFC strip. Someone also donated a Purple Heart and European battle ribbons. Red, Paul and I were allowed to be among the first troops to leave the ship."

Heartwarming. When I got to the end I muttered out loud, "awwwwwww"! :heartpump::woof:
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
I love that magazine!!! I get it and the Xtra, too. I saw that story and sent a copy to an English Vet I write to.

Now that's the kind of story I can really sink my teeth into! I used to have a copy of an "official discharge" for Pal, a War Dog who served with the US Marines in the Pacific.


Dogdaddy :woof:


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