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US Army hero dog during WWII receives posthumous medal

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17: Mali, a Belgian Malinois British Military Working Dog wearing the PDSA Dickin Medal poses for a photograph at Queen Mary's University on November 17, 2017 in London, England. Mali received the prestigious Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, after his role in military operations in Afghanistan in 2012. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

LONDON — A U.S. Army dog that attacked a machine-gun nest during World War II was posthumously awarded Britain’s highest honor for animal bravery on Monday.

Chips, a German shepherd-husky cross, was awarded the Dickin Medal for actions during a 1943 beach landing in Sicily. According to the U.S. soldiers, Chips raced into an Italian machine-gun nest, attacking an enemy soldier by the throat and pulling the gun from its mount.

The medal was awarded by veterinary charity PDSA in a ceremony at the Churchill War Rooms in London. The honor was accepted by 76-year-old John Wren of Southold, New York, whose father donated Chips to the war effort in 1942.

Lt. Col. Alan Throop, who attended on behalf of the U.S. Army, said that shortly after the battle Chips was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. The awards were later rescinded because army policy didn’t allow animals to receive medals.

Chips suffered scalp wounds and powder burns in the battle but survived the war, returning to his owners in Pleasantville, New York.

The medal was awarded on the 75th anniversary of the Casablanca Conference, at which British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt plotted wartime strategy. Chips served as a sentry at the conference and met both leaders.

“It has taken over seven decades, but Chips can now finally take his place in the history books as one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the U.S. Army,” PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said.

Since 1943, the Dickin Medal has recognized gallantry by animals serving with the military, police or rescue services. Recipients include 33 dogs, 32 messenger pigeons, four horses and a cat.