Always Faithful – Signal Corps Racing Pigeon
The Pigeon Program was a part of Signal Corps and Fort Monmouth history from just after WWI, through the mid 1950s. Pigeons carried out a vital role as members of the U.S. Army. As history indicates, pigeons carrying messages were responsible for saving hundreds of lives, saving property, and in general carrying messages that allowed day-to-day operations to continue. They did this in two major wars and a major military action, in addition to peacetime.
In order for the pigeon program to be viable and continue to be of value to the Army, the pigeons, and their trainers too, had to continually train. This training could take many forms, to include exercises and activities that took place on post, flights from post to outpost, and taking part in area pigeon races. Pigeon racing allowed distance training, different conditions, and unfamiliar areas into the equation.
Always Faithful is considered to be distinguished because of her racing feats – her endurance. The information provided here comes from a newspaper clipping from the New York Herald Tribune, July 12, 1940. The clipping is held in the Historical Office’s Archive. The article was titled “Famous Pigeon, Racer, Dies at Fort Monmouth.”
Announcement of the death of Always Faithful came from SGT Clifford A. Poutre, an Army Pigeon trainer. As described, Always Faithful had received the “hall of fame cup and medal from the American Racing Pigeon Society on 1935.” She received this award for winning a national race over a 720-mile course from Chattanooga, TN in just 15 hours, 39 minutes, 9 seconds; averaging 1,343.8 yards a minute according to the newspaper article.
She was hatched at Fort Monmouth in 1929, both parents were racing stock. She received training given to all Signal Corps birds, including field maneuvers as well as racing. She attracted the attention of trainers after completing a 200-mile course against heavy wind and rain, averaging 683 yards a minute. She was noted not for her record, but because she finished the race at all. SGT Poutre entered her into a similar race the following week and she won it. The following year there was failure in a long race, then retirement. In 1932, brought out of retirement, she raced a 200-mile race and won.
Other races followed according to the newspaper article, with wins in some, and with loses in others. In 1933, she was entered in the Chattanooga 750-mile race and placed 3rd (her mother had won this race). In 1935, she won a 600-mile race (1023 yards a minute). A week later, she raced at Chattanooga again, and won. She was retired after that race. In her retirement as a breeder, she raised many broods, including birds that flew at remarkable speed.
She was buried in a pigeon cemetery at Fort Monmouth, in a grave next to Anchor Cock, a famous racing pigeon that died in 1934.
Note: This entry composed by Floyd, and edited/posted by Chrissie.