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Proudly Presents

Pigeon Heroes


Sharing Pigeons -- Racing, Gun History & Purple Hearts


Tristan and Tom
with Friends

Racing pigeon enthusiast Tristan Smith and his dad Tom present some of their birds to students at Renaissance Academy in Port Richey, Florida, explaining how the birds are cared for and some of the amazing feats that they're capable of.

School Kids Get to Send Racing Pigeons Back Home

Tom Smith amazed students with surprising modern facts about pigeons--and some cool history.

Click the Link for the Whole Story

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Tom discussed their economic importance throughout the ages, including
Europe's First Gunpowder

Beginning in 16th Century England, pigeon poop was prized for use in making saltpetre -- the vital ingredient for producing gunpowder. It was the only known source of the substance, and was so valuable that only the Crown was allowed to own it. Citizens were permitted to keep their own pigeons in dovecotes, or coops, but the poop belonged to the King.

Saltpetre comes from the mixture of earth and pigeon droppings. Dovecotes weren't allowed to have floors because they wanted the pigeon droppings to sit on the earth. Two or three times a year the King's men would come and dig out the dovecote bottom with all the earth and the pigeon droppings, and take it away to be processed into saltpetre."

Tom talked about pigeons during US Military history, revering heroic

Purple Heart Pigeons


S-a-a-a-a-LUTE -- G.I. JOE

G.I. Joe
(March 24, 1943 in Algiers)
G.I. Joe was a racing pigeon noted for his service in the United States Army Pigeon Service.

During WWII, G.I. Joe saved the lives of the inhabitants of the village of Calvi Vecchia, Italy, and of the British troops occupying it. The village was scheduled to be bombarded by the Allied forces on 18 Oct. 1943, but the message that the British had captured the village, delivered by G.I. Joe, arrived just in time to avoid the bombing. Over a thousand people were saved.

In November 1946, G.I. Joe was presented the Dickin Medal for gallantry by the Lord Mayor of London. After WWI, he was housed at the U.S. Army's Churchill Loft at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey along with 24 other heroic pigeons. He died at the Detroit Zological Gardens at the age of 18, and is mounted and on display at the U.S. Army Communications Electronics Museum at Fort Monmouth.

G.I. Joe--US Army Pigeon Service

Watch Joe Receive His Medal
The Dickin Medal for Gallantry is the
animal equivalent  of the Victoria Cross.

"G.I. Joe is the most outstanding military pigeon in history, and is credited with saving the lives of at least 100 British allies during World War II."

-- Otto Meyer, US Army (Retired)
Former Commander of the US Army Pigeon Service

 G.I. Joe's Heroic Saga, Recounted By His Commander

The British 56th Brigade was scheduled to attack the city of Colvi Vecchia, Italy, at 10 a.m., October 18, 1943. The U.S. Air Support Command was scheduled to bomb the city to soften the entrance for the British Brigade. The Germans retreated leaving only a small rear guard and as a result the British troops entered the city with little resistance and occupied it ahead of schedule.

All attempts to cancel the bombings of the city, made by radio and other means of communication, had failed. Little "G.I. JOE" was released with the important message to cancel the bombing. He flew 20 miles back to the U.S. Air Support Command base in 20 minutes and arrived just as our planes were warming up to take off. If he had arrived a few minutes later, it might have been a different story.

Gen. Mark Clark, Commanding the U.S. Fifth Army, estimated that "G.I. JOE" saved the lives of at least 1000 of our British allies.

In November 1946, "G.I. JOE" was shipped from Fort Monmouth, N.J. to London, England, where he was cited and awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry by the Lord Mayor of London. "G.I. JOE" is the only bird or animal in the United States to receive this high award.

"G.I. JOE," a dark checker pied white flight cock, was hatched March 24, 1943, at the Pigeon Section in Algiers, Algeria, North Africa. Later he was taken to the Tunisian front, then to Bizerte, and from there to the Italian front. After World War II, "G.I. JOE" was housed in the Churchill Loft, U.S. Army’s "Hall of Fame" at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., along with 24 other pigeon heroes.

In March of 1957, the remaining pigeon heroes were placed with different zoological gardens throughout the U.S.A. "G.I. JOE" was placed with the Detroit Zoological Gardens where he died June 3, 1961, at the age of 18. "G.I. JOE" was returned, mounted, and placed in the Historical Center, Meyer Hall, at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

Go Here to see the Photo of "Old Sarge" Harry Lucas
Holding the Famous G.I. Joe



Cher Ami --
Smithsonian Institute #30714

Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

The Price of Freedom:
Americans at War


"We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven's sake, stop it." -- Maj. Charles S. Whittlesey, Lost Battalion

Cher Ami -- "Dear Friend" -- was a registered Black Check cock carrier pigeon, one of the 600 birds owned and flown by the US Army Signal Corps in France during World War I. He delivered twelve important messages within the American sector at Verdun. On his last mission, 4 October 1918, he was shot through the breast and leg by enemy fire but still managed to return to his loft with a message capsule dangling from the wounded leg.

The message Cher Ami carried was from Major Charles S. Whittlesey's "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Infantry Division that had been isolated from other American forces. The message brought about the relief of the 194 survivors of the battalion, and they were safe behind American lines shortly after the message was received.

For his heroic service, Cher Ami was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre" with palm. He was returned to the United States and died at Fort Monmouth, NJ on 13 June 1919, as a result of his wounds. Cher Ami was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931, and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I.

Read Cher Ami's Whole Story

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View the Smithsonian Exhibit

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The Cher Ami Kid's Coloring Book

This is a 16-page printable document, offered free to download and distribute. Share the coloring book with your kids so that a new generation of America's young can learn this exciting story from our history.
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Cher Ami's Final Mission
Teen Re-enactment

Cher Ami Animated Trailer
(Best if Viewed in French)


Poop You Might Not Know About Pigeons

21 Pigeon Facts

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40 More Pigeon Facts

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Our Very Own Ghetto Pigeons Hero


Chan the Man:
Hawk Watch

Chan trains a vigilant, unwavering gaze while patrolling the farm. He's our best defense against those nasty predators stalking our pigeons.