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US Military Dog Awarded Top Honor for Bravery


U.S. Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham stands with Lucca, after the German shepherd received the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, in London, April 5, 2016.

U.S. Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham stands with Lucca, after the German shepherd received the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, in London, April 5, 2016.


A British animal charity has given its top award for bravery to a U.S. military service dog.

Lucca, a German shepherd, completed six years of active service with the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Marines say Lucca protected many American and allied troops. She reportedly saved thousands of lives by identifying explosives with her nose.

The 12-year-old dog and her handler, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham, traveled to London this week. There, they received the British People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal for bravery in battle.

U.S. Marine dog Lucca rests after receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, at Wellington Barracks in London, April 5, 2016.

U.S. Marine dog Lucca rests after receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, at Wellington Barracks in London, April 5, 2016.

“Her uncanny bravery in the face of adversity, both on and off the battlefield, proved to be an invaluable asset,” said PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin.

Lucca is now retired from the military. But her final mission was an important one. In March 2012, Lucca discovered a 14-kilogram roadside bomb in Afghanistan. She continued the search and a second bomb exploded.

Her left front paw was destroyed. She suffered burns to her chest.

Her leg had to be removed. But she did make a full recovery.

Gunnery sergeant Christopher Willingham, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, poses with retired US Marine dog Lucca, after receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, equivalent of the Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks in London, Tuesday, A

Gunnery sergeant Christopher Willingham, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, poses with retired US Marine dog Lucca, after receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, equivalent of the Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks in London, Tuesday, A

Her move from her duties as a military dog to just a dog of leisure has been uneventful.

“She enjoys just being a dog,” Willingham said. He added that Lucca just enjoys taking life easy and laying on a couch.

I’m Jim Dresbach.

Henry Ridgwell wrote this report for VOANews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

charityn. an organization that helps people in need

handlern. a person who trains or controls an animal

uncannyadj. strange or unusual in a way that is surprising or difficult to understand

adversityn. a difficult situation or condition

battlefieldn. a place where a battle is fought

assetn. a valuable person or thing

mission n. job or work; duty

leisuren. time when you are not working; time when you can do whatever you want to do

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