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German shepherd war hero Lucca awarded medal

A retired U.S. Marine Corps dog who lost a leg serving in Afghanistan received a medal Tuesday from a British animal care charity.

Lucca led over 400 missions in six years sniffing out improvised explosive devices ahead of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan without a single human fatality, according to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.

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An IED exploded underneath Lucca in March 2012, but she survived after her handler rushed her to a medevac and doctors amputated her front left leg. The 12-year-old war hero was decorated with the PDSA Dickin Medal on Monday in a ceremony at Wellington Barracks in London.

Lucca, a 12-year-old German shepherd war hero, sits with her new PDSA Dickin Medal Tuesday at Wellington Barracks in London.Frank Augstein/AP

Lucca, a 12-year-old German shepherd war hero, sits with her new PDSA Dickin Medal Tuesday at Wellington Barracks in London.

“Lucca is very intelligent, loyal and had an amazing drive for work as a search dog. She is the only reason I made it home to my family and I am fortunate to have served with her,” her original trainer, Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham said in a statement on the organization’s website.

Lucca now lives with Willingham and his family in California. He and others who served alongside her attended the medal ceremony Tuesday. A former commanding general of the U.S. Army Public Health Command spoke in her honor.

Gunner Sgt. Christopher Willingham poses with Lucca Tuesday. She lives with Willingham and his family in California these days.Frank Augstein/AP

Gunner Sgt. Christopher Willingham poses with Lucca Tuesday. She lives with Willingham and his family in California these days.

A still from camera footage in the field in Afghanistan on March 23, 2012, shows Lucca sniffing around the spot where an IED exploded underneath her moments later. Lucca's handler at the time, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, saved her life by rushing her to a medevac.ABC News

A still from camera footage in the field in Afghanistan on March 23, 2012, shows Lucca sniffing around the spot where an IED exploded underneath her moments later. Lucca’s handler at the time, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, saved her life by rushing her to a medevac.

“I know you don’t understand the words, but I hope you sense the human warmth, gratitude and pride that we all feel for your heroism and for a job extremely well done,” said Maj. Gen. Dean Sienko, according to ABC News.

Lucca is the 67th recipient of the medal, which is considered the animal equivalent of the U.K.’s highest military honor, the Victoria Cross. She’s also the first Marine dog to be awarded the medal. Other dogs, pigeons, horses and one cat have been honored in the past.

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tsalinger@nydailynews.com

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animals ,
pets ,
us military ,
afghanistan ,
united kingdom

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