Saturday, July 3, 2010
DC Trip - Oddments, part 1 . . . Cher Ami
One can not see everything at the Smithsonian museum complex. The scope is just too vast. So, you have to plan ahead to make sure important exhibits are not missed. For the Fife clan, this amazing pigeon was near the top of the list of things to see. Located in the Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Cher Ami was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre" for heroic service. This is an award that was given to other notables such as Pa's hero Alvin York and fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker! Cher Ami, which means "Dear Friend," carried vital messages for American forces in the Argonne Forest. However, his last mission is why Cher Ami is one of the most notable birds in history. Remnants of the "Lost Battalion" were not only cut off and surrounded by Germans, but were also enduring "friendly fire." A note stating "WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALELL 276.4. OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVENS SAKE STOP IT" was attached to Cher Ami's leg. He was their last hope as all other runners and pigeons dispatched did not make it. As Cher Ami rose to the sky the Germans opened a barrage to bring him down. And they were successful, for Cher Ami was shot and plunged toward the ground. But miraculously, the pigeon rose again to fly 25 miles in 25 minutes. When he arrived, the message dangled from a leg that was only connected by ligaments. He had been shot through the breast and he was missing an eye! Medics worked to save his life, but they could not save the leg. He was fitted with a wooden leg, but Cher Ami died from his wounds about nine months later. Out of some 550 men in the "Lost Battalion," only 194 walked out. The rest were captured, wounded or killed.
In the background is another animal hero from WWI . . . Sergeant Stubby.