Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sinbad the Sea Dog

K9C Sinbad, USCG, Retired was a mixed-breed canine sailor aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter George W. Campbell. Sinbad holds the distinction of having been enlisted in the United States Military, serving 11 years sea duty including combat in WWII, never having an owner or master, and having been the only Coastguardsman to be the subject of a biography until the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Sinbad's birth is not recorded, but he was first obtained by CBM A.A. "Blackie" Rother of the Campbell who intended the dog as a gift for a girlfriend. She did not take him in due to a restriction against pets in her apartment building leaving "Blackie" with the dog as he returned from liberty in 1937. He displayed the attributes of a sailor: namely drinking coffee, whiskey with beer chasers at port bars, having regular and general quarters duty stations, and generally demonstrating seamanship. Sinbad was enlisted into the service with his pawprint on enlistment papers, his own service and Red Cross identification numbers, service record, and bunk. He was subject to military disciplinary proceedings twice and was promoted and busted in rank on several occasions. Sinbad retained the rank of Chief Petty Officer - Dog, Retired (K9C (Ret)) following his retirement.

Sinbad served aboard the USCGC Campbell throughout the Second World War. The Campbell was assigned to convoy escort duty in the Atlantic. Although publicity photos depicted Sinbad standing helmeted on the barrel of a large gun, his actual general quarters duty post was below decks assigned to damage control where his canine ears would not be damaged by the sound of gunfire.

The Campbell 's most significant action involved combat with, and sinking by ramming of, the German submarine U-606. When the cutter suffered severe damage, becoming disabled and without power due to flooding, Sinbad was among the "essential crew" left aboard the otherwise evacuated ship to keep it afloat as it was towed to Canada for repair. It was Captain James Hirschfield's belief that nothing could befall the ship if Sinbad remained aboard. That superstition may be credited with the presence of Sinbad's statue in the mess hall of the current USCGC Campbell

Sinbad was ultimately awarded the following : American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal and Navy Occupation Service Medal.

Sinbad died on 30 December 1951 and was buried beneath a granite monument at the base of the light station's flagpole.