A 10-month old homing pigeon is pulled from a front line dugout at Grandpre, France, during the Meuse Argonne offensive, and important information for headquarters is stuck in a message tube attached to his leg. The bird is released and heads for headquarters at Rampont, a distance of 25 miles. A shell explodes near the pigeon and the concussion tosses him up and then down. He struggles on and arrives at Rampont approximately 25 minutes later. The bird had been wounded by a machine gun bullet, bits of shrapnel had torn into his body, and his right leg was missing. However, the message tube was still intact, hanging by the ligaments of the torn leg. The pigeon becomes a war hero and is named “John Silver,” after the one legged pirate in Robert L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island. He will be retired from active service in 1921, and will then be assigned to mascot duty for the 11th Signal Company at Schofield Barracks, Honolulu, Hawaii. He will die on Dec. 6, 1935.
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