3-legged US Marine Corps dog is awarded highest animal war medal

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Marine Dog Who Lost Leg Gets Highest War Medal Honor For Saving Soldiers

A wounded military dog was flown to London to receive the highest animal war award after having served alongside the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lucca, a 12-year-old German Shepherd, was honored on Tuesday with the Dickin Medal at Wellington Barracks. The award is comparable to the Victoria Cross, which is the highest military acknowledgement for valor "in the face of adversity."

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Today is National K9 Veterans Day. Lucca has had the honor to serve alongside some of the greatest 2 and 4 legged...

Posted by Lucca K458 on Sunday, March 13, 2016

According to a press release, Lucca served 6 years of active duty, completing over 400 separate missions. She was trained as a specialized search dog, and was considered an extraordinary success in sniffing out improvised explosive devices.

Under her patrol, there was never a human casualty, including in the blast that caused Lucca to lose her leg.

See more of this incredibly brave pup:

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Lucca the dog awarded the Dickin Medal
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3-legged US Marine Corps dog is awarded highest animal war medal
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, April 5, 2016. The 12-year-old German Shepherd lost her leg on 23 March 2012, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when Lucca discovered a 30lb improvised explosive device (IED) and as she searched for additional IEDs, a second device detonated, instantly loosing her front left leg. Lucca completed over 400 separate missions in Iraq and Afghanistan during six years of active service protected the lives of thousands of troops, with her heroic actions recognised by the UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA, with the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Gunnery sergeant Christopher Willingham, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, poses with 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, April 5, 2016. The 12-year-old German Shepherd lost her leg on 23 March 2012, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when Lucca discovered a 30lb improvised explosive device (IED) and as she searched for additional IEDs, a second device detonated, instantly loosing her front left leg. Lucca completed over 400 separate missions in Iraq and Afghanistan during six years of active service protected the lives of thousands of troops, with her heroic actions recognised by the UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA, with the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Gunnery sergeant Christopher Willingham, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, poses with 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, April 5, 2016. The 12-year-old German Shepherd lost her leg on 23 March 2012, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when Lucca discovered a 30lb improvised explosive device (IED) and as she searched for additional IEDs, a second device detonated, instantly loosing her front left leg. Lucca completed over 400 separate missions in Iraq and Afghanistan during six years of active service protected the lives of thousands of troops, with her heroic actions recognised by the UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA, with the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Heroic US Marine dog Lucca rests for photographers after receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, equivalent of the Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks in London, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The 12-year-old German Shepherd lost her leg on 23 March 2012, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when Lucca discovered a 30lb improvised explosive device (IED) and as she searched for additional IEDs, a second device detonated, instantly loosing her front left leg. Lucca completed over 400 separate missions in Iraq and Afghanistan during six years of active service protected the lives of thousands of troops, with her heroic actions recognised by the UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA, with the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Retired US Marine Corps dog Lucca with her owner Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham, after she was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross - at a ceremony at Wellington Barracks in London.

(Photo credit: PA)

Retired US Marine Corps dog Lucca after she was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross - at a ceremony at Wellington Barracks in London.

(Photo credit: PA)

Retired US Marine Corps dog Lucca with her owner Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham, after she was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross - at a ceremony at Wellington Barracks in London.

(Photo credit: PA)

Heroic US Marine dog Lucca rests for photographers after receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, equivalent of the Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks in London, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The 12-year-old German Shepherd lost her leg on 23 March 2012, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when Lucca discovered a 30lb improvised explosive device (IED) and as she searched for additional IEDs, a second device detonated, instantly loosing her front left leg. Lucca completed over 400 separate missions in Iraq and Afghanistan during six years of active service protected the lives of thousands of troops, with her heroic actions recognised by the UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA, with the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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She was searching for explosives in Afghanistan, when one detonated. Lucca immediately lost one of her front legs in the blast.

"The explosion was huge and I immediately feared the worst for Lucca," her handler Corporal Juan Rodriguez said in a press statement. "She had saved my life on so many occasions – I had to make sure that I was there for her when she needed me."

Cpl. Rodriguez said he then performed emergency first aid, treating her front leg as well as her chest, neck and head, which had suffered severe burns.

On March 23rd, 2012 Lucca was injured by an IED while serving in Afghanistan. Her handler, Cpl Rodriguez, quickly...

Posted by Lucca K458 on Friday, August 29, 2014

She was then evacuated from Afghanistan to Germany, and finally back to the Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton, California. Cpl. Rodriguez never left her side, and even chose to sleep with her through her recovery, the press statement reported.

Lucca was up and running 10 days later, but was filed to retire during recovery.

Since her final patrol on March 23, 2012, the German Shepherd has been enjoying retirement in California, where she lives with Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham.

TBT: Lucca searching in Iraq in 2008. #K9 #SEEKON

Posted by Lucca K458 on Thursday, May 14, 2015

GySgt. Willingham served with Lucca on two tours in Iraq, in 2007 and 2008. He was Lucca's original handler, until Lucca was deployed to Afghanistan.

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

This pic is from our walk this morning. After 6 years of faithful service in the Marine Corps and 3 combat deployments, Lucca spends her days enjoying retirement. #Combatvet #AlwaysFaithful #K9

Posted by Lucca K458 on Monday, October 13, 2014

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Lucca will be the 30th dog to receive the Dickin Award since its conception in 1943 by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, a leading veterinary charity in the U.K.

The award has also been previously presented to 32 World War II pigeons, three horses, and one cat.

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