Fort Monmouth Memories: Homing Pigeons

Fort Monmouth, New Jersey was once home to the U.S. Army Signal Corps Breeding and Training Center for military carrier pigeons. grey pigeon on grey metal rod

One such famous bird, President Wilson, undertook a mission that would save many American troops.

On October 5th, 1918 this heroic pigeon flew across enemy lines from a detail of American troops delivering a critical message requesting artillery fire, which protected them from German fire.

Within the age of digital communication, it is easy to forget that pigeons were critical communication resources because they were so dependable when it came to getting messages back and forth between the front line troops and those supporting them behind the lines. This pigeon, President Wilson, traveled approximately 25 minutes back to the military base in order to communicate that artillery fire was needed to cover them. The pigeon came under enemy fire from the Germans, losing a leg, and was shot also in the chest.

He later recovered and was sent to Fort Monmouth for U.S Army Signal Corps Breeding and Training Center. There he would retire and live for another 11 years.

According to the accounts, the bird flew from his location in France approximately 25 miles, calling for him to fly through enemy lines. The Germans saw the carrier pigeon and began firing upon him. His injuries did not impede his arrival.

This clearly is a remarkable account in the light of unreliable telephone, telegraph and radio transmission capabilities. There were no mobile phones at this time, neither were there drones. Who would have believed that the fate of our nation would rest, in some part, upon the flight of a pigeon?

Carrier pigeons were also used in World War II, where 32 pigeons were awarded medals for heroic actions. It seems that even after radio was introduced into the Infantry, pigeons were still the easiest and most reliable way to coordinate tank units without exposing troops to enemy fire.

If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Ralph Aponte: 732.914.1400.

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