Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rochester's Four-Legged War Veteran

Memorial Day will soon be upon us, and presents us with a number of opportunities to reflect upon the sacrifice of our military members who gave their lives in the service of their nation. As we contemplate the stories of those who served in our country's various conflicts, it is interesting to note that not all of our military veterans walked on two legs: some walked on four.

In 1941, while serving with the U. S. Army in California, Charles G. Seed of Rochester acquired an albino German Shepherd named Lucky.  When he received orders to deploy overseas, Seed shipped Lucky home to his family in Rochester.  Two years later, the U. S. Quartermaster Corps made an appeal for dogs to serve in the military, and Rochester Clarion editor Earl Seed enlisted Lucky on October 28, 1943. Lucky served at the U. S. Naval base at Jacksonville, Florida until discharged on August 11, 1945. He then came home to Rochester, where he was the most popular staff member at the Rochester Clarion office.

Lucky spent the rest of his days interacting with the folks on Main Street, or napping on his bed in the Clarion office.  Each morning, he presented himself at Sutton's Market, just a couple of doors down from the newspaper office, where he was rewarded with a bone from the shopkeeper.  Lucky died in June 1953 and was appropriately eulogized on the front page of the Clarion.

Military dogs performed vital tasks during World War II, including sentry, messenger and scout work. The Quartermaster Corps trained over 10,000 dogs before the war ended, and a couple of them were recipients of the Purple Heart and Silver Star.  If you are interested in knowing more about the service of canines like Lucky in the military during World War II, click here to view a government newsreel feature about the dogs.

The photo of Lucky shown here ran on the front page of the Clarion with his obituary in June 1953.