Memorial Day: Remembering Military Working Dogs

Military Working Dog Bak as a "sniper"

Military Working Dog Bak as a “sniper”

Blogger Kevin Hanrahan‘s tribute to those “battle buddies” who are killed in action  but go unrecognized – Military Working Dogs.

Last week I brought you the heart wrenching story of Military Working Dog Bak’s Memorial Service at Fort Stewart Georgia. MWD Bak was killed this past March in Afghanistan.

As a tribute to MWD Bak on Memorial Day, here is his story.

There was nothing better than seeing those Afghan mountain peaks slowly turning from brown to white. It seemed that, as the snow melted away, US Army Sergeant Marel Molina and his Military Working Dog Bak’s time remaining in Afghanistan withered away day by day.

But Sergeant Molina couldn’t think about going home today, even though he was a short two months away. He had work to do.

No, that wasn’t right.  He and MWD Bak had work to do.

Keeping his Green Beret team alive was hard work.

What Molina could not prevent was an attack by an Afghan local policeman who turned his AK-47 on the Americans .. he was sounded in the neck and his MWD Bak was shot…

Molina and Bak - battle buddies.

Molina and Bak – battle buddies.

Sergeant Marel Molina received lifesaving surgery at Bagram Airbase Afghanistan, was evavced to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and then to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC. He has moved from crutches, to a cane, to walking on his own. He has high hopes for being completely off aids soon and is very close to a full recovery.

Physically he will heal, but mentally he will never be the same. He will never forget his battle buddy Military Working Dog Bak and the images of him lying on that chopper, bleeding out, and Molina powerless to help him.

Bak wasn’t a piece of equipment, and he wasn’t just a dog, Military Working Dog Bak was a fellow soldier, who died fighting for this country.

Sergeant Molina and many other soldiers are alive today because of their fellow soldier, Military Working Dog Bak.

As a country we celebrate Memorial Day to remember the men and women who fought and died for this country. But for those that fought beside them, we also think of our four-legged soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Please remember Military Working Dog Bak and the others like him who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

You can read the full account on Kevin Hanrahan’s blog.

Also killed in this incident was:

CPT Andrew M. Pedersen-Keel, 28, of South Miami, Fla.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

SSG Rex L. Schad, 26, of Edmond, Okla.  He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga

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Son of a Soldier Pays Tribute: The Path of the Warrior

Christopher Buck courtesy Humanity Healing Intl

Christopher Buck courtesy Humanity Healing Intl

Christopher Buck, CEO Humanity Healing International

I grew up in a military family. My father and grandfathers served. Every couple of years we would move to a new base and start the process of finding new friends and sometimes finding old ones from earlier postings.

I was 8 years old when my father went to serve in Vietnam. I was too young to understand the politics at the time, but I remember being angry at people I saw on television saying that soldiers in Vietnam were bad people. MY Dad wasn’t. I remember being afraid when I saw the green military sedan driving past and we would stop playing and watch to see if it was going to someones house the green sedan stopping meant somebody’s father was dead or hurt. I remember not knowing what to say to a friend that had lost his father and feeling guilty because I was so happy it wasn’t my Dad.

I have long wanted to do something to honor, not only my father and all those that have served their country in the military, but also the families that stay behind and wait. This video, The Path of the Warrior, is a small token of my respect and gratitude. I hope you will forward this letter, or at least the video link, to all those you know who either serve in the armed forces or wait behind.

What will I do this Memorial Day? I have not been to a parade since my children were little. In truth, I will probably be working on one of Humanity Healing’s projects and it is a good excuse for a barbecue; but at some point during the day, I will send a prayer of protection to those currently serving and their families, I will say a Blessing to those who did not return and a pray of comfort to their families, and I know that the fears of my eight year-old self will well up from the part of my soul they are hidden and I will say a prayer of gratitude that my Dad was one of those who did return.

A Heartfelt Thank You to All the Volunteers

Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2013. Photo via Twitter VAAdaptiveSport

Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2013. Photo via Twitter VAAdaptiveSport

I don’t personally know who might have placed a flag on my father-in-law’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

He and my mother-in-law are buried in the columbarium wall. So, I’m unsure if they even have an individual flag at the stone carved with their names.

What I am sure of is that even though I am unable to visit today they will be honored by all those who attend ceremonies and visit Arlington.

I am sure of the same for my father buried at the Dayton National Cemetery. He is buried on a small hill next to a young tree that surly has grown deep roots since his service.

Today, I want to thank the VA volunteers, the Boy Scouts, the various veterans organizations, all those who honor the more than three million military members buried in graves at national cemeteries.

You honor our family members who served and by doing so you honor your nation and me. For that, I am sincerely grateful.

 

Memorial Day Events: Many Ways to Remember

flags-multiple-in-groundMemorial Day is an opportunity to remember all  those who died while serving the United States of America in all wars.

National Cemetery Ceremonies

An easy reference for all Memorial Day ceremonies at National Cemeteries throughout the United States is available HERE. This listing is in alphabetic order by state. Note that there is not a VA national cemetery in every state.

National Moment of Silence

On Memorial Day at 3 p.m., local time around the nation, Americans will pause for the annual Moment of Remembrance to reflect on the sacrifice of America’s fallen warriors and the freedoms that unite Americans. The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains approximately three million gravesites at its 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico, as well as 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites.

On Memorial Day at 3 p.m., local time around the nation, Americans will pause for the annual Moment of Remembrance to reflect on the sacrifice of America’s fallen warriors and the freedoms that unite Americans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains approximately three million gravesites at its 131 national cemeteries and has the potential to provide six million graves on more than 19,000 acres in 39 states and Puerto Rico, as well as 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites.

To learn more about the history of Memorial Day, visit VA’s Memorial Day page.

– See more at: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2013/May/Memorial-Day-When-America-Remembers.asp#sthash.tyM8C7bQ.dpuf

On Memorial Day at 3 p.m., local time around the nation, Americans will pause for the annual Moment of Remembrance to reflect on the sacrifice of America’s fallen warriors and the freedoms that unite Americans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains approximately three million gravesites at its 131 national cemeteries and has the potential to provide six million graves on more than 19,000 acres in 39 states and Puerto Rico, as well as 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites.

To learn more about the history of Memorial Day, visit VA’s Memorial Day page.

– See more at: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2013/May/Memorial-Day-When-America-Remembers.asp#sthash.tyM8C7bQ.dpuf

An Online Memorial

If you do not have time this weekend to visit a national cemetery or personally thank a military veteran for his or her sacrifice after more than 10 years of war, take just a few minutes and look into their faces. The 100 faces in 100 hours is a project of CNN.com and features photos and bios of 100 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines killed in Afghanistan and Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Washington D.C. Ceremonies

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY – Monday, May 27  at 11 a.m. a Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony is set at the Tomb of the Unknowns, to be followed by an observance program hosted by the Department of Defense in Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater. A prelude by the U.S. Air Force Band will begin in the amphitheater at 10:30 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to be at the Tomb of the Unknowns or seated in the amphitheater by 9:30 a.m.

NATIONAL PARADE – Monday, May 27, beginning at 2 p.m.
The parade of Marching Bands and Veterans units from all 50 states steps off at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 7th Streets, NW and proceeds along Constitution Avenue, past the White House, ending at 17th Street. The National Memorial Day Parade is sponsored by the World War II Veterans Committee and includes patriotic floats and helium-filled balloons.

WOMEN IN SERVICE MEMORIAL – Monday, May 27, at 4 p.m. The Women In Military Service For America Memorial, located at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery, will hold a ceremony that includes formal military honors, a keynote address, wreath-layings and the Memorial’s signature event, the scattering of rose petals in tribute to departed comrades. Members of the public are invited to join in the personal tribute segment of the program.

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