Wounded Military Dog Receives Highest War Medal

A heroic German Shepherd that lost a leg when an IED detonated beneath her was awarded the world’s highest honor for service dogs during a ceremony on Tuesday.

Lucca, who successfully completed 400 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and protected thousands of troops during her six years of service, received the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal this week.

She is the first Marine Corps dog to receive the medal, which is considered the top honor for military service animals around the world.

Her handler, Sgt. Christopher Willingham, told Sky News that it was an “incredible honor” to receive the award on Lucca’s behalf. “It is very humbling to be part of this entire process,” he said. “I think more importantly is that Lucca’s accomplishments are going to help bring awareness and recognition to all our military working dogs and their handlers.”

Lucca’s career ended in March 2012 when she lost her leg and suffered chest burns after an IED bomb exploded beneath her while serving in Afghanistan.

Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, who was her handler at the time, stayed by her side throughout each step of Lucca’s recovery. “The explosion was huge and I immediately feared the worst for Lucca,” he reported in the PDSA press release. “I ran to her and saw her struggling to get up. I picked her up and ran to the shelter of a nearby tree line, applied a tourniquet to her injured leg and called the medics to collect us.”

“She had saved my life on so many occasions; I had to make sure that I was there for her when she needed me.”

After ten days and leg amputation surgery, Lucca was up and walking again. Today, Lucca is retired and lives with Sgt. Chris Willingham and his family in California.

“She is the only reason I made it home to my family and I am fortunate to have served with her,” Willingham said. “Today, I do my best to keep her spoiled in her well-deserved retirement.”

Lucca isn’t the only dog to receive this award. Check out Treo, the world’s most highly decorated military dog .

h/t: sky news