Animal Military Figure. A mixed breed terrier, he was the World War I mascot of the United States Army's 1st Infantry Division. On July 14, 1918, a battalion of the 1st Infantry Division participated in Bastille Day ceremonies in Paris, France, during World War I. One soldier, Private James Donovan, overstayed his leave in Paris, and found himself in the Montmartre section, when he tripped over a small dog sleeping in an alley. Just at that point, two military policemen came upon Donovan and since he was AWOL, he convinced the policemen that he was part of a search team looking for the Division's lost mascot, the dog he had just tripped over. The MPs returned Donovan and the dog, now named Rags, to the 1st Division. Moving up to the front, Rags quickly became popular with the soldiers, carrying messages from the front line to the rear headquarters. He could hear incoming German artillery long before the human soldiers could, and would take cover, thus warning the soldiers of artillery about to hit them. Several times, Rags was the only way of getting messages back to headquarters, bearing messages that directed American artillery to hit deploying German units. During this time, Private Donovan took care of Rags, although he was popular with all of the soldiers. On October 9, 1918, both Donovan and Rags were wounded by German Artillery and poison gas, and both were evacuated to the military hospital at Fort Sheridan (Chicago), Illinois. Donovan died there in 1919 from his wounds, while Rags recovered. With his master dead, Rags was given the free run of the post, and was friendly to all of the soldiers. In 1920, Rags was "adopted" by the two daughters of Major Raymond W. Hardenberg, who was newly stationed at Fort Sheridan. The Hardenberg family would take Rags with them in several transfers, to Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Plattsburgh, New York, to Washington DC, and finally to Fort Hamilton (New York City), New York. At Fort Hamilton, Rags was reunited with soldiers of the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, some of whom remembered him from France. Rags quickly became a celebrity with the veterans. In 1934, the Hardenberg Family returned to Washington, DC, and on March 22, 1936, Rags died in their home in Silver Spring, Maryland. A book, "Rags, War Hero" by Jack Rohan, was published in 1930.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson