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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Honza Needs Your Vote to Become the 2013 Hero Dog

Moments after receiving the Bronze Star, SGT Nolan knelt down and pinned the medal on Honza.

Moments after receiving the Bronze Star, SGT Nolan knelt down and pinned the medal on Honza.

Military dog advocate and author Kevin Hanrahan has shared his military dog of the week photos and blog entries with Off the Base readers. Now, he’s asking for your help.

He’s campaigning to make Specialized Search Dog (SSD) Honza – affectionally known as Honza “Bear” – the American Humane Society Hero Dog for 2013. To do that, he needs your support and that of your friends, family and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

One of the photos from SSD Honza's Facebook page campaigning to make him the Hero Dog for 2013.

One of the photos from SSD Honza’s Facebook page campaigning to make him the Hero Dog for 2013.

If you need convincing, here’s the lowdown on SSD Honza.

The yellow lab recently completed his first deployment to Afghanistan. While deployed, SSD Honza located 14 Improvised Explosive Devices weighing more than 400lbs.

Honza and SGT Nolan led over 250 combat patrols ensuring the safety of countless American and Coalition Troops following in his paw prints.

He has saved the lives of countless service members.

Hanrahan writes that he recently had lunch with Honza’s handler:

U.S. Army Sergeant John Nolan told me a great story. When he received his bronze star right before redeploying from Afghanistan he ripped it off his own chest and placed it on his military working dog, Specialized Search Dog Honza “Bear”.

He told me that Honza Bear had done all the work, he’s the one that found all those Improvised Explosives…….Honza Bear is the reason John Nolan and many of the Green Beret Team members are alive today.

Since military working dogs cannot receive military awards, Hanrahan and Nolan hope Honza Bear will receive the American Humane Society Hero Dog Award.

Here’s how you can help. You can support Honza by going to his Facebook Page and “Liking” the page. SGT John Nolan is going to post updates on Honza Bear as much as he can on this page.

Can you really turn down a face like the one below?

Honza sporting a pair of "doggles."

Honza sporting a pair of “doggles.”

 

Celebrating One Year of Military Working Dogs in Photos

Here’s a shout out to fellow blogger Kevin Hanrahan. His blog is one year old this week and to help him mark the occasion, he shared some of his readers’ favorite photographs published during his first year.

Three military working dogs ready for action.From Kevin Hanrahan's Military Working Dogs best photos of the year.

Three military working dogs ready for action.
From Kevin Hanrahan’s Military Working Dogs best photos of the year.

There’s possibly no closer companion for dog handlers than their work companions. And possibly no better motivation than sharing some “loving” after a job well done.

A Marine kissing his military working dog. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

A Marine kissing his military working dog. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

A long day of work means there a well earned time to rest. Who better to bed down with at night than your military working dog?

Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanrahan.

One thing for certain, while others rest there is always someone on watch.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Mann, a dog handler with Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and native of Arlington, Texas, sights in with his infantry automatic rifle while providing security with Ty, an improvised explosive device detection dog, during a patrol here, Feb. 16. Marines and sailors with 1st LAR and India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, conducted clearing and disrupting operations in and around the villages of Sre Kala and Paygel during Operation Highland Thunder. Marines with 1st LAR led the operation on foot, sweeping for enemy weapons and drug caches through 324 square kilometers of rough, previously unoccupied desert and marshland terrain. Mobile units with1st LAR set up blocking positions and vehicle check points while India Company, 3/3 conducted helicopter inserts to disrupt insurgent freedom of movement.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Mann, a dog handler with Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and native of Arlington, Texas, sights in with his infantry automatic rifle while providing security with Ty, an improvised explosive device detection dog, during a patrol here, Feb. 16. Marines and sailors with 1st LAR and India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, conducted clearing and disrupting operations in and around the villages of Sre Kala and Paygel during Operation Highland Thunder. Marines with 1st LAR led the operation on foot, sweeping for enemy weapons and drug caches through 324 square kilometers of rough, previously unoccupied desert and marshland terrain. Mobile units with1st LAR set up blocking positions and vehicle check points while India Company, 3/3 conducted helicopter inserts to disrupt insurgent freedom of movement.

Congratulations Kevin for raising awareness for the Military Working Dogs and sharing their stories and those of their handlers.

 

Military Dogs, Veterans Honored in Rose Bowl Parade

Lucca will be riding on the 2013 Natural Balance Rose Parade float! We are at Fiesta getting the float ready! Photo credit: Tillman Facebook page.

Lucca will be riding on the 2013 Natural Balance Rose Parade float! We are at Fiesta getting the float ready! Photo credit: Tillman Facebook page.

The 2013 Rose Bowl Parade featured two floats honoring those who ave hserved in the U.S. Military.

Lucca, a military working dog,  lost her leg while protecting a platoon of Marines from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in March 2012.

Lucca lost her leg, but prevented those on patrol from sustaining any injuries.

She’s retired now, living with a family, but Lucca got her day of fame riding the length of the parade route on the float.

In the photo to the left, Lucca is more interested in her ball than posing for a picture with Tillman, the Skateboarding Dog. M.V.P. on Natural Balance Pet Foods Canine Sports Team.

Lucca is just one of many military working dogs featured on Natural Balance’s 2013 Rose Parade® float.

Veterans who served during the Korean War also were honored as part of the 60th anniversary of the Department of Defense ceasing combat.

“The Rose Parade is the heroes’ welcome these veterans always deserved and never got,” said Army Col. David J. Clark, told the LA Times as he mingled with volunteers and veterans at a float decorating session.

Military Puppies of the Week in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Spc. Ahren Blake, a combat medic from Clinton, Iowa, with Company D, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman, a part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, holds two puppies he found at an observation post in the Aziz Khan Kats Mountain Valley range near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, April 15. The puppies have been living with the Afghan National Army Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 201st Infantry Corps, which man the Ops that 3rd Platoon visited.

My continued appreciation for Kevin Hanrahan and his weekly Military Dog of the week photos.

His photos and stories of the military dogs and their handlers have never failed to bring a smile and an occasionally a tear.

I promise you this week, it is all grins and giggles as you scroll through his photos of tough and ready soldiers care and bond with these fuzzy balls of fur and playfulness.

A small puppy wondered up to U.S. Marines from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 6th Marines, in Marjah, Afghanistan on *****. After following the Marines numorous miles, a soft hearted Marine picked the puppy up and carried the puppy in his drop pouch. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl Charles T. Mabry II)

Military Dog Picture of the Week

Kevin Hanrahan’s weekly blog feature – Military Dog Picture of the week – is too precious not to share.

Military Working Dog Handler Leading Aircraftwoman Samantha Vassallo and Military Working dog ‘Ally’ practice winching during continuation training at RAAF Tindal. CHC Helicopters and RAAF Tindal Security Police dog section conducting winch training, the training provides both SAR and RAAF Security Police a chance to maintain and increase their Search and Rescue skills. (Photo by LAC Terry Hartin)

Hanrahan is a soldier and author of the novel in manuscript, Paws on the Ground, about U.S. Soldiers and the dogs that protect them in the treacherous and alien terrain of Afghanistan. He recently signed with a literary agent.

In addition to advocating for military dogs and their handlers, Hanrahan also offers up tips on his craft of writing. His most recent – 10 Tips to a Great Pitch.

Military Dog Picture of the Week and Afghanistan Video

Sgt. Anouska, a Tactical Explosive Detection Dog, has just found detonation cord under a T-wall and now stands at attention to let his handler know that he has found some explosives. This was a demonstration showcasing different types of military dogs and their capabilities at International Security Assistance Force Regional Command-South headquarters on Kandahar Air Field.
(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jimmie Crockett)

Thanks to the generosity and dedication of fellow blogger Kevin Hanrahan – you get a glimpse of the ongoing work and life of military dogs and their trainers.

Kevin posted the photo above of Sgt. Anouska on June 20, 2012. I’m late sharing it, but couldn’t pass it up. The working military dog is so attentive – so intense – reminds me of the focus a new recruit learns in boot camp.

Well done Sgt. Anouska.

Kevin also featured this video from Afghanistan that he described as:  ctually footage of  Working Dog Diego “sniffing it” Khandahar style:

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