Gunnery Sgt Chris Willingham & Lucca
Lucca was a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix who served with the United States Marine Corps for 6 years. Trained to detect explosives, Lucca’s distinguished record includes leading more than 400 patrols in Afghanistan and Iraq during three combat tours. She’s credited with at least 40 confirmed finds of insurgents, explosives and ammunition — and for having no human casualties during her patrols.
In 2012, while on patrol in Afghanistan, she was injured by an IED blast that led to the amputation of her left leg. After recovering at MCB Camp Pendleton, Lucca officially retired in 2012 and was adopted by her original handler, Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham.
On 5 April 2016, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom, awarded Lucca the PDSA Dickin Medal. Known as the “Victoria Cross for Animals,” Lucca was the 67th recipient and first US Marine Corps dog to receive the honor.
Lucca died peacefully on January 20, 2018 surrounded by Chris Willingham and his loving family, and Cpl Juan Rodriguez, the handler who was with Lucca when she was injured.
On November 14, 2019, Lucca was one of the first recipients of our brand new Medal of Bravery that was instituted in the United States on Capitol Hill - The "Animals in War and Peace Medal of Bravery."
To GnySgt Willingham, she will always be his "Lucca Bear."
Gunnery Sgt Chris Willingham & Lucca display her PDSA Dickin Medal in London. (Chris Willingham)
"Send Me" is the title of the sculpture, and it depicts Lucca standing proudly in her full glory, wearing her harness, ready for work. This monument stands proudly at the end of the Alice Walton Sculpture Garden at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, TX, across from the Dickies Arena.
Possible Future Location: It is hoped that "Send Me" will be placed at the Pacific Views Event Center at MCB Camp Pendleton because it offers the perfect location to place this monument. With its proximity to the Oceanside gate and the Memorial Gardens, this location will be the easiest for the community to come and enjoy and will be a wonderful addition for the Starbucks patrons to enjoy and learn about a great hero. The monument will also be near SSgt Reckless and will enhance the other memorials around the building.
MCB Camp Pendleton has a fantastic Military Working Dog program. It is fitting that Lucca's monument could be placed on base to honor all of those military working dogs who have served so valiantly and sacrificed so much.
Lucca also has a rich history at Camp Pendleton. She received training there before being deployed, and returned after her injury where she made her recovery on base. Jocelyn Russell, the artist of the beautiful monument to SSgt Reckless once again did a magnificent job on this monument. (Please see Jocelyn’s other magnificent work at www.wildlifebronzes.com.)
Memorial Statue Design & Materials: Lucca is made of bronze. She is slightly larger than life, the size of a very large German shepherd. For the future monuments, it is planned for the pedestal to have a short concrete base with a black granite overlay, and the sides of the pedestal will be engraved black granite with a picture of Lucca in service and a description of her heroics on one side, and on the other, a picture and description of her post-injury, three-legged wearing the PDSA Dickin Medal.
"Send Me" Lucca K458 is the first of many monuments that will also be part of the new International War Animals Museum.
PLATINUM DONORS $5,000+
GOLD DONORS $2,500+
SILVER DONORS $1,000+
BRONZE DONORS $500+
Patrick Dwyer - Horseheads, NY
IF you would like more information or a financial proposal on any of these projects, please reach out to Robin Hutton, (805) 603-2174, or email through the Contact Us form for more.