Pledge of Allegiance -

Cher Ami was a homing pigeon owned and flown by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France during World War I. He helped save the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division in the battle of the Argonne, October 1918. In his last mission, he delivered a message despite having been shot through the breast, being blinded in one eye, covered in blood, and having a leg hanging only by a tendon. The bird was awarded the Croix de Guerre for heroic service delivering 12 important messages in Verdun, France.

The New York Bird Club requests that June 13 be declared as National Pigeon Day so that pigeons can be properly recognized as heroes.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

History War Heroes - Cher Ami and GI Joe, Winkie, etc.

In World War I, a pigeon saved the lives of many soldiers in the "Lost Battalion" of New York's 77th Division of the U.S. Army. This pigeon was Cher Ami. His name means "dear friend" in French. He saved the lives of many French soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle. Cher Ami was shot in the chest and the leg, loosing most of the leg to which the message was attached, but continued the 25 minute flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home. Cher Ami was awarded the French ‘Croix de Guerre’ for heroic service.

Another heroic pigeon named G.I. Joe saved the lives of a thousand soldiers in World War 2 after British troops had established a position within an Italian town that was due to be bombed by allied planes. Communication equipment was down and the only means of stopping the raid was to attach a hastily written message to G.I. Joe and send him to the HQ. G.I. Joe flew 20 miles in 20 minutes arriving at the air base whilst the planes were taxiing on the runway. G.I. Joe received the ‘Dickin’ medal for his bravery.

Cher Ami was a registered Black Check Cock carrier pigeon. He was one of 600 birds owned and flown by the United States Army Signal Corps in France during World War I. He delivered 12 important messages within the American sector at Verdun, France. On his last mission, Cher Ami was shot through the breast by enemy fire, yet he managed to return to his loft. A message capsule was found dangling from the ligaments of one of his legs that also had been shattered by enemy fire. The capsule contained a message from Major Charles Whittlesey. As commander of the “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Infantry Division, his troops had been isolated behind enemy lines without food and ammunition and they were beginning to receive fire from allied troops who didn’t know they were there. Cher Ami’s bravery paid off and just hours after the message was received, the 194 survivors of the battalion were returned safely to the American line.
Cher Ami was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre" with Palm for his heroic service between the forts of Verdun. In 1919 he died from the wounds he received in battle.

Cher Ami was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931 and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I. During a battle in France, the American soldiers found themselves surrounded by the enemy. Then they found themselves being fired on by their own side! They tried sending a message to their fellow troops by pigeon. The first message said, "Many wounded. We cannot evacuate." The pigeon carrying the message was shot down. They sent out a second bird with the message, "Men are suffering. Can support be sent?" That pigeon too was shot down. One homing pigeon was left-Cher Ami. His message was, "Our artillery is dropping a barrage on us. For heaven's sake, stop it!" The men of the Lost Battalion saw Cher Ami fly up-and then saw him shot down. Yet soon Cher Ami was airborne again. Hopes soared. Cher Ami's leg was shot off and and hanging from his ligaments was the message capsule. He also was hit by another bullet through the chest. Still, this bird kept flying. Cher Ami finally got through. The shooting stopped, and many lives (at least 200) were saved.

Cher Ami regrettably died on June 13 in 1919 as a result from his battle wounds, and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for his heroism. He was then inducted into a hall of fame and received a gold medal for his service to America. He is on display at the National Museum of American History, Behring Center, in the Armed Forces History Hall. (see photo above).

A complete list of pigeons awarded

NEHU.40.NS.1 - Blue Cheq. Hen "Winkie"
MEPS.43.1263 - Red Cheq. Cock "George"
SURP.41.L.3089 - White Hen "White Vision"
NPS.41.NS.4230 - "Beachbomber"
NPS.42.31066 - Grizzle Cock "Gustav"
NPS.43.94451 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Paddy"
NURP.36.JH.190 - Dark Cheq. Hen "Kenley Lass"
NURP.38.EGU.242 - Red Cheq. Cock "Commando"
NPS.42.NS.44802 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Flying Dutchman"
NURP.40.GVIS.453- Blue Cock "Royal Blue"
NURP.41.A.2164 - "Dutch Coast"
NPS.41.NS.2862 - Blue Cock "Navy Blue"
NPS.42.NS.15125 - Mealy Cock "William of Orange"
NPS.43.29018 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Ruhr Express"
NPS.42.21610 - B.C. Hen "Scotch Lass"
NU.41.HQ.4373 - Blue Cock "Billy"
NURP.39.NRS.144 - Red Cock "Cologne"
NPS.42.36392 - "Maquis"
NPS.42.NS.7542 -
41.BA.2793 - "Broad Arrow"
NURP.39.SDS.39 - "All Alone"
NURP.37.CEN.335 - "Mercury"
NURP.38.BPC.6 -
DD.43.T.139 -
DDD.43.Q.879 -
NURP.41.SBC.219 - Cock "Duke of Normandy"
NURP.43.CC.2418 - B.C. Hen
NURP.40.WLE.249 - "Mary"
NURP.41.DHZ.56 - "Tommy"
42.WD.593 - "Princess"
USA.43.SC.6390 - "G.I. Joe"

Related articles: Homing Pigeons Wartime Accomplishements Celebrated on Anniversary of WW1 Battle


  1. Oh great a bird saved the life.Really a good thing to know.

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  2. What a wonderful,little bird. Brings a tear to my eye. So brave!

  3. thanks for this information
    helped me for school exhibition
    I found the information I needed

  4. Greetings may I take a few moments of your time.
    Cher Ami
    I am honoured to have this opportunity to show my feeling on a creation of God, this is the miracle that is unexplainable, but the heart or Cher Ami new that evil lurked on the cold shoulder's of the lost and hungry men.
    if Cher Ami cared for humans, why must humans not care for all creations, small and large.
    I urge you to read all you can on the life of Cher Ami, it will bring tears to even a heat of stone.
    The will to fight evil was known to Cher Ami.
    Lets try for an honorary day for the greatest love for men from a friend Cher Ami.
    Sweet dreams.
    my Prayer include Cher Ami