A courageous dog awarded the “Animals’ Victoria Cross” has been lauded for his lifesaving gallantry by an SAS hero decorated with the highest military honour.
The Express reports that Kuga the frontline war dog’s prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal was accepted by Corporal Mark Donaldson VC at a special ceremony in Australia for the way he lived up to the famous regiment’s motto: Who Dares Wins.
Despite being shot five times, Kuga’s devotion to duty during a brutal mission to catch an Afghan Taliban insurgent saved his special forces patrol from walking into an ambush.
Belgian Malinois Kuga had shown no fear as he faced bursts of automatic fire, swimming towards an enemy gunman who lay in wait to attack troops from Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment.
The troops had landed near a target compound in Afghanistan’s Khaz Oruzgan district as part of Operation Slipper in August, 2011.
It was four year old Kuga’s second tour of duty and after working with his handler to check for hidden insurgents and improvised explosive devices, the dog’s sharp senses picked up the presence of the enemy on the other side of a river.
Undeterred by close-range fire, Kuga dashed into the water before charging towards the tree-line where he grabbed the gunman in his jaws.
Only after being hit five times – twice in the ear, in the cheek, the paw and also the chest, with that bullet exiting through the shoulder – did Kuga loosen his grip on the fighter, but still managed to answer his handler’s calls and swim back to safety for first aid before being airlifted by helicopter for emergency treatment. Sadly, Kuga died 11 months later – official records say he succumbed to his wounds but his bravery that day spared many other casualties.
The identity of Kuga’s handler, known only as Sergeant J, remains a military secret but one of the Australian SAS’s most decorated troopers saluted the dog’s bravery during a ceremony at the Canberra War Memorial this week.
Corporal Donaldson VC, who received the Commonwealth’s highest military decoration for valour during the Battle of Khas Uruzgan in 2008, said: “Kuga’s actions that day in Afghanistan were heroic. There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he saved lives. He just wouldn’t give up on his mates and doing his job.
“Kuga and the other military working dogs in Afghanistan saved countless lives, whether they were finding IEDs or tipping us off to an enemy presence before we’d seen them. Kuga’s PDSA Dickin Medal is for the all military working dogs who worked alongside us in Afghanistan and every day since.”
Kuga is the 71st recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal, which was instituted in 1943 by the founder of the animal charity, Maria Dickin, as a way of recognising the vital role military dogs, horses, carrier pigeons and even a cat have played in times of combat. The bronze medal is embossed with the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” and comes with a striped green, brown and sky blue ribbon.
PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said: “If it wasn’t for Kuga detecting the concealed enemy position, his patrol would have walked into an ambush with inevitable loss of life. He showed great skill and courage when it mattered most, despite suffering serious injury.”
PDSA Trustee Mary Reilly made the formal presentation of Kuga’s Medal to Corporal Donaldson VC and retired military working dog Odin at the Canberra ceremony attended by members of Australia’s SASR, which shares the same motto as the UK SAS.
(Story source: The Express)