A friend of mine attending veterinary school sent me this. I had never heard this story. It's amazing.
The Story of Cher Ami
Cher Ami, means "dear friend" in French. Cher Ami was a homing pigeon which was donated by the pigeon fanciers of Britain for use by the U.S. Army
Signal Corps in France during World War I and had been trained by American pigeoneers. He saved "The Lost Battalion of the 77th Division" in the
battle of the Argonne, October 1918.
On October 3, 1918, Charles Whittlesey and more than 500 men were trapped in a small depression on the side of a hill behind enemy lines. Their ammo
was spent. They were also beginning to receive friendly fire from allied troops who did not know their location. Surrounded by the Germans, many were
killed and wounded in the first day and by the second day, just over 200 men were still alive. Whittlesey dispatched messages by pigeon. The pigeon
carrying the first message, "Many wounded. We cannot evacuate" was shot down. A second bird was sent with the message, "Men are suffering. Can
support be sent?" That pigeon also was shot down. Only one homing pigeon was left: Cher Ami. He was dispatched with this note in the tiny transport
canister on his leg:
“We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven's sake, stop it!”
As Cher Ami flew off, the Germans saw him rising out of the brush and opened fire. Cher Ami was attempting to fly through a thick hail of bullets. He
was shot down but miraculously managed to take flight again.
Soldiers who witnessed this apparent miracle said the bird was obviously struggling, but wouldn't give up.
He arrived back at his loft at division headquarters 25 miles away in just 65 minutes, delivering the message that saved the lives of the trapped men.
As soon as it was clear Cher Ami was wounded, a medic was called. The man was astounded to find Cher Ami had been shot through the breast, with a
reported bullet hole the size of a quarter. Another wound had blinded him in one eye, and his right leg had been nearly shot off and was hanging by a
piece of tendon.
Cher Ami became the hero of the 77th Infantry Division. Army medics saved his life, but were unable to save his leg. They carved a tiny wooden
prosthetic leg for him. When he recovered enough to travel, the little one-legged hero was put on a boat to the United States, with General John J.
Pershing personally seeing Cher Ami off as he departed France.
Upon return to America, Cher Ami became the mascot of the Department of Service. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster
for his heroic service in delivering 12 important messages in Verdun. After hanging on for eight months, he died at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on June
13, 1919, almost certainly from the wounds he received in battle.
Cher Ami's body was later mounted by a taxidermist and enshrined in the Smithsonian Institute.