When people think about animals serving in the military, most think about dogs, horses and even birds. However, cats have also played a major role in the military as mousers, messengers, mascots and companions. On National Cat Day, we’re celebrating our military’s feline companions.
“Unsinkable Sam” is an infamous cat who survived the sinking of three ships during World War II: The German battleship Bismarck, the British destroyer Cossack and the Ark Royal aircraft carrier. After the Ark Royal sank, Sam became a land cat and lived until 1955.
Like Sam, Simon the “Able Seacat” served aboard the British warship Amethyst as a mouser. In 1949, the ship became stuck on the Yangtse River and Simon was wounded by a shell explosion. Despite his wounds, Simon continued to fulfill his duty as a mouser its return to Britain. Simon is the only cat to receive the Dickin Medal, which is awarded to animals for their gallantry and devotion to duty.
Another notable cat is Private 1st Class Hammer who served with American service members in Iraq in 2004. The service members bonded with Hammer and would tuck him into their body armor during enemy attacks. To show his appreciation, Hammer protected their supplies and provided them with comfort and love. When the troops were leaving Iraq, they refused to leave Hammer behind. They joined with Alley Cat Allies and Military Mascots to raise money to bring Hammer home to Colorado Springs.
These cats, and many others, continue to provide support and a sense of home while deployed.