Finally, for Memorial Day, Janis Row has written an article for PetPlace called “Honoring the cats of war.” Here’s just one of many stories:
In more recent times, cats and dogs have been banned from Naval vessels, but they are still valuable on land. In 2004, a tiny Egyptian Mau kitten wandered into U.S. Army headquarters in Iraq. Dubbed PFC [Private First Class] Hammer, he became a ratter, morale booster, and important stress reliever to the soldiers. When the battalion was set to ship back to Colorado, Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield contacted Alley Cat Allies and Military Mascots for help in getting PFC Hammer back to the States. PFC Hammer was vetted and quarantined before traveling to Colorado Springs, where he took up permanent residence with Staff Sgt. Bousfield. When Hammer was being carried to Bousfield, he heard Rick’s voice and began purring and kneading the arm of the transporter. As it turns out, he remembered his Army buddy after all.
When Bousfield found out his unit was leaving Iraq in March, he decided he couldn’t leave a member of his team behind.
“He has been through mortar attacks,” said Bousfield, a 19-year Army veteran. “He’d jump and get scared liked the rest of us. He is kind of like one of our own.”
Pfc. Hammer got his name from the unit that adopted him, Team Hammer. Soldiers would tuck Hammer in their body armor during artillery attacks, and in return, Hammer chased mice in the mess hall.
“He was a stress therapist,” Bousfield said. “The guys would come back in tired and stressed. Hammer would come back and bug the heck out of you. He wiped away some worries.”
The kitten earned his rank after nabbing five mice.
The U.S. Defense Department has a whole page on PFC Hammer, and here he is: