U.S. Marine dog Lucca was on patrol in Afghanistan's Helmand Province in March 2012 when she alerted troops to a 30 pound improvised explosive device (IED). Minutes later, while she continued to search for other IEDs, a second device detonated.

Lucca lost her front left leg, bringing to an end six years of active service and more than 400 missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For helping protect the lives of thousands of troops and for her heroic actions, the 12-year-old German Shepherd was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal -- which is awarded for animal bravery and is the  equivalent of Britain's Victoria Cross -- at Wellington Barracks in London, Tuesday.

The award, conferred by the UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA, is the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict.