Climbing up the military ranks is not easy. You have to be outstanding in terms of your commitment to your sworn duty, a master of necessary skills, and an embodiment of your branch’s capabilities and highest standards. While some promotions seem more meaningful than others, it all takes blood, sweat, and tears before you can level up your rank. However, there are instances when our friends from the animal kingdom get their military titles, and some probably even outranked you. Check them out.
Brigadier Sir Nils Olav
Nils Olav is a king penguin resident who resides in Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. He is the mascot and Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian King’s Guard and is the only animal member of a military officer corps of royal nobility. Nils Olav was adopted in 1972 and was named after the previous mascots that were also named Nils Olav, thus making him Nils Olav III. Every year that the Royal Norwegian Guard comes to the Edinburgh Zoo for a military ceremony, the penguin would inspect them first. The 50 soldiers of the King of Norway’s guard would stand in line patiently while Nils Olav inspected them one by one. In 2016, he was titled Brigadier Sir Nils Olav and was expected to live some ten more years so he could become the senior-most member of the Norway military.
Staff Sgt. Reckless
Staff Sgt. Reckless saw actions and served during the Korean War by carrying supplies and ammunition back and forth, as well as evacuating the wounded, usually on her own and without a handler. She would learn each supply route quickly after a few trips. The highlight of her military career was during the Battle of Panmunjom-Vegas, also known as Battle of Outpost Vegas/Vegas Hill, in late March 1953 when she made a total of 51 solo trips to resupply a lot of the frontline units, even after being wounded twice. She was initially given the rank of corporal and then a sergeant in 1954 after a battlefield promotion after the war ended. Reckless was the first horse in the Marine Corps who participated in an amphibious landing. She was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, all rightly so. When she retired, she received VIP treatment until she died in 1968, after injuring herself due to arthritis on her back as she aged.
Perhaps the most famous and most decorated war dog of the Great War, Sgt. Stubby became the unofficial mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment during World War I after the men who adopted him smuggled him to the frontlines in France. The officer obviously was not happy upon seeing the dog and berated his owner. Stubby rendered a dog salute by placing his right paw over his right eye. Since then, he became a part of the division and served on the Western Front for 18 months, witnessing and participating in a total of 17 battles. Sgt. Stubby was not only adorable but was also valuable in the field. He saved his troop friends multiple times from surprise mustard gas attacks with his strong sense of smell. He also helped find and comfort the wounded soldiers and allegedly even found a spy German soldier whom he held down by the seat of his pants until American soldiers found him.
Stubby’s breed was uncertain, although some news items described him as a Boston Terrier or American bull terrier. He was smuggled back home once the war ended. He became an instant celebrity and had been in many parades across the US. He also met Presidents Wilson, Coolidge, and Harding and appeared on vaudeville stages as well. In 1921, Sgt. Stubby was presented a gold medal by General of the Armies John Pershing from the Humane Education Society.
Stubby died in March 1926 in his sleep. His body was preserved through taxidermy and is now part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s permanent collection.
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