Cher Ami (French for dear friend) was a carrier pigeon in World War I. Along with other pigeons, he carried messages for the United States troops in Europe. Cher Ami probably carried his most important message on October 4, 1918.
Surrounded and trapped by the Germans on the side of a hill, the commander of the battalion, 77th Infantry Division, known as The Liberty Division, Major Whittlesey was faced with another danger. Artillery shells from American guns were dropping on them as the commanders didn’t know the correct coordinates for the Germans.
Major Whittlesey decided to use his last pigeon, Cher Ami, to send a message to the American artillery giving them his mens’ location. Out of the 500 men in the division, only 200 remained alive.
Cher Ami, amid heavy German fire and despite being hit more than once, persevered and continued to fly to his destination. Watching the bird under fire, the Americans on the hillside feared that he would be another war casualty and that all was lost. But Cher Ami would not give up and he was successful although badly wounded.
The message was read saving Major Whittlesey and his 200 men.
Medics worked tirelessly to save Cher Ami’s life. They succeeded although he remained blind in one eye and lost a leg. He was nursed by members of the division and recovered from his wounds.
Cher Ami was sent back to the U.S. by boat, a much lauded hero. General John J. Pershing, Commander of the U.S. Army, personally saw Cher Ami off as he left France.
When the French heard of Cher Ami’s outstanding bravery, they awarded him the great honor of bestowing upon him the French medal called the Croix de Gerre with a palm leaf.
Cher Ami’s story was told many times and his fame spread as one of a beloved World War I hero.
Several years after the war, Harry Webb Farrington, author, poet, hymn writer, preacher, soldier and educator, published a book containing poems and stories about the men and heroes of World War I. In the book was a special poem written by Farrington and dedicated to Cher Ami.