As humans salute their veterans today, I would like to give a tip of my tail to the brave cats who served our country. Although there are fewer famous military felines than dogs, we cats have some brave warriors in our ranks. Here are five of them:
- Princess Papule, or Pooli for short, was born in the Navy yard at Pearl Harbor late in the war, and served on the attack transport USS Fremont. The places Pooli saw action included the Marianas, the Palau group, the Philippines and Iwo Jima. She was profiled in the L.A. Times on her 15th birthday in 1959.
- The VP-12 Squadron, based at Guadalcanal, was also known as “the Black Cats of VP-12” and their mascot was a real black kitty named Yardbird.
- WWII flying ace Colonel Fred J Christensen was part of the 56th Fighter Group, known as the Wolfpack. He shot down 22 German fighter planes but always returned safely, and he claimed that his good luck came from a kitten he adopted while in Great Britain. The lively young kitty, named Sinbad, flew with the Colonel on many of his lower altitude missions and raised the morale of the other airmen. Col. Christensen returned to the States in September, 1944 with Sinbad, who became a member of his family… and had kittens, which was the first time Col. Christensen had any idea she was a female.
- Another wartime Air Force mascot was Jinx, who served at a base in Texas. She did not fight abroad but earned her wings while helping train heavy-bombardment crews.
- And there are still felines serving the armed forces today. Pfc. Hammer was born on an Army base in Iraq and worked hard keeping the soldiers’ quarters and mess rodent-free. He also offered feline therapy to the soldiers as they braved battles and attacks. When Pfc. Hammer’s unit completed their deployment in 2004, Alley Cat Allies and Military Mascots helped get him transport to his new home in Colorado, where he joined Staff Sergeant Rick Bousfield’s family.