Mascot: Vicky the Dog
Ship’s mascot, Victory “Vicky” the dog has been part of the battleship USS Iowa’s crew since her commissioning in 1943. Vicky served the ship proudly during WWII and continues to serve the Battleship USS Iowa Museum Los Angeles today. Kids (and parents) of all ages enjoy looking for Vicky in our free online app and/or a scavenger hunt card. Hear the stories of Vicky and make sure you find all of the stops during the tour!
LEARN ABOUT OUR MASCOT, VICKY THE DOG
When Navy Captain John L. McCrea first brought home a new pet dog, his wife said, “Get that thing out of here.” Years later his daughter Annie Sullivan recalled, “my sister named the dog Victory but we all called him Vicky. He was just a mutt.” That “mutt” would go on to sleep at the foot of President Franklin Roosevelt’s bed, share the Captain’s Wardroom with the great military leaders of World War II, log in over 205,000 miles on the Battleship USS Iowa, and be given full military honors when he finally left the ship.
On 22 February 1943, Captain McCrea took command of the newly commissioned USS Iowa and per his wife’s request brought Victory with him to help keep crew morale up. Vicky became an Apprentice Mascot, was outfitted in a special sailor’s suit, and all the necessary sailor’s paperwork was soon completed. Vicky even qualified in the recruit 50-yard swimming test – the entry noted that he was “also able to retrieve a stick.” On 1 April 1943 the benefits of a Navy Service Life Insurance (NSLI) program, “was explained to this canine, and he does not desire to make application at this time.”
In November of 1943, the Iowa received the Top Secret mission of transporting President Roosevelt across the Atlantic to the Tehran Conference. Roosevelt’s party included the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with their aides as well as his own presidential staff. Roosevelt was no sooner transferred aboard from the presidential yacht Potomac than he noticed a small dog running around. FDR asked his friend, and former Naval Aide, John McCrea where the dog slept. Captain McCrea replied that the dog normally slept at the foot of his bunk and, since the President would have the Captain’s Cabin, he would take the dog up to the Captain’s Sea Cabin by the bridge. Roosevelt, probably missing his little dog Fala, said “Well John, I see no reason to disrupt this little dogs routine —.”
Vicky slept at the foot of the President’s bed in the Captain’s Cabin during Roosevelt’s 15-day stay onboard the IOWA. He also met frequent visitors to the cabin including the Joint Chiefs of Staff: General George C. Marshall, General Hap Arnold, Admiral William Leahy and Admiral Ernest J. King. Vicky joined the President and his guests in watching movies every night, but there is no record of Vicky’s favorite.
While Roosevelt’s party met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in Tehran, Vicky and the Iowa took a quick trip from North Africa to Brazil and crossed the equator. Like all sailors, Vicky went through the tough initiation ceremony to become a Shellback. An entry in Vicky’s personnel record dated 27 November 1943 and signed by Neptunus Rex, Ruler of the Raging Main, declared Vicky to be a duly qualified Shellback.
Like many fighting sailors, Vicky had some trouble adjusting to peacetime service. Later personnel entries included Captain’s Mast hearings for going AWOL (Absent Without Leave) and for fighting. At one point it became serious enough to be demoted two ranks to Mascot Third Class.
It is thought that Vicky probably missed her old friend & master Captain (now Vice Admiral) McCrea. On 30 January 1949, Mascot First Class Victory, in his blue uniform along with his sea bag, was piped over the side of the decommissioned USS Iowa in Hunter’s Point and transferred to the destroyer USS Rupertus. He was to rejoin his old master, now headquartered in Hawaii, as an aide. A citation was read: