Letter to the editor – Craig Hertel re: Sgt Stubby: An American Hero

August 6, 2018
To the editor –

My most sincere thank you to the Floyd W. Brown Post 11 of the American Legion of Iowa for sponsoring the free showing this past weekend of Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero. Admittedly, I was not aware of the story of this WW 1 canine hero.

In the movie, when a map flashed noting the town of St. Mihiel, it hit me hard. At this moment, the movie crossed the line from interesting to personal. My maternal grandfather was part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Saint-Mihiel battle, as was Sgt. Stubby. Grandpa Herb relayed he was one of only 35 of 250 soldiers who came out alive from his trench, attached to the 61st infantry. Could it really be that I have Sgt. Stubby to thank for MY life?

After the movie, I read more about Sgt. Stubby. It was indeed the Meuse-Argonne offensive when this canine amazingly captured a German spy. With help of detailed WW 1 official Division accounts posted on the ‘net, and my handy Euro-pocket detailed atlas of France, the best I can determine is that St. Stubby and Herb were perhaps about 20 miles apart in October & November 2018. Essentially the distance between Rippey & Scranton.

Did this famous dog and G’pa fight together? Not likely. But only God knows if the work of Sgt. Stubby did tip the balance of power, alter the next offensive steps of the Germans, allowing Herb to survive.

And then there was the German Iron Cross flashed in the movie. It was just a year ago I found, among my mother’s things, a relic Herb brought home from the War. In Grandpa’s scratchy elderly handwriting: “This is a genuine German pocket book I picked up in the Messil Arigone (sic) field”. Also tucked inside the pocket book — a German Iron Cross.

Yes, this movie is indeed personal to me. Beyond that, the movie does a wonderful job of giving an overview of an important part of our US history. It is tastefully produced. Not too gory, yet depicting the tough conditions our soldiers had to endure. My hope is that Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero movie would become an important component of teaching history in school.

Thanks again to the Floyd W. Brown Post 11 in Jefferson, Iowa for your generous gift to the community on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, and thanks to the Sierra Community Theatre for partnering to make this available to the public.

Sincerely – Craig Hertel, Jefferson, IA

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