Well done, Bass!
The Victoria Cross equivalent for animals has been awarded to a courageous army dog who detected five IED bombs during a raid against the Taliban, ultimately saving many lives.
The animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross was instituted in 1943 by a UK charity after its founder, Maria Dickin, recognized the number of animals, primarily dogs and carrier pigeons, that had saved lives during the war.
Bass, who completed more than 350 explosive sweeps during 46 operations in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, served in the US Marine Special Operation Command for six years.
Kaavan, who was dubbed as the “world’s loneliest elephant,” lived in a miserable half-acre of land at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan, and was made to perform for visitors before being rescued.
Bass, who completed 46 operations, including more than 350 explosive sweeps, during his six years of service in the US Marine Special Operation Command, is now 10 years old (or 53 in human years), and has retired to San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his former handler, Staff Sergeant Alex Schnell.
The PDSA Dickin Medal was awarded to Bass in recognition of his exceptional service.
The bond between humans and animals is unique and special, whether they are beloved pets or working animals such as Bass. At our veterinary hospitals, our dedicated team witnesses and celebrates the remarkable connection between animals and their human companions on a daily basis.
The PDSA, established by Maria Dickin, continues to ensure that no animal suffers due to financial difficulties of their owners, while also acknowledging and honoring the significant role that animals play in our society.
Bass is a prime example of the importance of animals in our lives. His remarkable bravery and dedication to duty during a mission in 2019 undoubtedly saved lives and demonstrated his exceptional abilities as a member of his team. It is an honor to present him with the PDSA Dickin Medal.
“Mr. Schnell stated that seeing Bass receive the PDSA Dickin Medal was one of his greatest honors.
Bass is an exceptional dog, and sharing his story can highlight the vital and life-saving roles animals play in the military.
We are all delighted that PDSA has recognized Bass in this way.
Mr. Willingham recommended Bass, stating, “Bass and Alex were an excellent team and were among the top 5% of Marines I had the privilege of serving with.”
During a nighttime operation in May 2019 in Helmand Province, enemy soldiers opened fire and detonated an IED in an attempt to capture a Taliban bomb-maker.
“Receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal for Bass is one of my greatest honors,” said Mr. Schnell (pictured).
Bass continued searching the building and discovered four more IEDs after finding another entrance.
The PDSA Dickin Medal is a large bronze medallion inscribed with the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve,” surrounded by a laurel wreath.