Topus and others taught soldiers how to care for the birds, how to place messages on the birds’ legs, how to drop pigeons from airplanes, and how to parachute from planes while holding on to the birds.
At its peak, the Army Pigeon Service totaled 150 officers, 3,000 enlisted men, and 54,000 pigeons. The winged messengers are credited with saving thousands of U.S. lives during the war.
Another, Blackie, delivered a message in the South Pacific revealing the position of 300 Japanese troops. Blackie completed his mission despite being hit by Japanese shrapnel, which blew away part of his neck and chest.