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 Bear Is Asking for Your Vote to Become a “Hero Dog”

Honza wearing his doggie goggles or "doggles."

Honza wearing his doggie goggles or “doggles.”

There’s still time to vote in the 2013 American Humane Association’s annual “Hero Dog” competition.

I confess. I have a bias in the military dog category for Honza “Bear.” I fell in love with Honza and his story the first time I read about him on Kevin Hanrahan’s blog which was long before the Labrador was up for this award.

If you need incentive, know that Honza completed over 250 combat missions in Afghanistan with 14 confirmed finds of explosives weighing over 400lbs.He is credited with saving the life of his handler and many others numerous times. But, Honza didn’t stop there. If he wasn’t taking the lead on combat missions, he was visiting wounded troops and lifting morale among all the soldiers.

honza-dog-bronze-star

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

You can vote for Honaz “Bear” to be the 2013 Military Hero Dog here.

If you need some convincing, here’s what Hanrahan wrote after having lunch with Honza’s handler, SGT Nolan:

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.

How the 99 Percent Can Support Military Service Members

Lest we forget, here’s a photo to remind us that U.S. Marines and their working companions are hard at work daily in Afghanistan as are all U.S. Armed Forces.

Wilbur, a U.S. Marine Corps military working dog with a Marine special operations team, takes a break with his handler after successfully searching a build site for an Afghan Local Police (ALP) checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. The ALP complemented counterinsurgency efforts by assisting and supporting rural areas with a limited Afghan National Security Forces presence. (DoD photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Released)

Wilbur, a U.S. Marine Corps military working dog with a Marine special operations team, takes a break with his handler after successfully searching a build site for an Afghan Local Police (ALP) checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. The ALP complemented counterinsurgency efforts by assisting and supporting rural areas with a limited Afghan National Security Forces presence. (DoD photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Released)

Currently, only 1 percent of Americans serve in the Armed Forces.

If you are part of the other 99 percent, here’s a chance for you to support those service members and their families.

A number of community-based organizations, listed below meet a number of criteria from OurMilitary.mil , which can be found here.  Click on the type of support you would like to offer for a list of organizations that can help you get started:

 

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.”

 

Military Working Dogs Know No Obstacles

Another MWD. They really do anything their handlers do include climbing ladders Afghanistan. (Photo by Jamie Peters 10 Dec 12 Used with permission)

Another MWD. They really do anything their handlers do include climbing ladders Afghanistan. (Photo by Jamie Peters 10 Dec 12 Used with permission)

Military working dogs don’t know nationality. Above is a photo of a British military working dog.

Fellow blogger Kevin Hanrahan became friends with some British Army combat photographers who agreed to let him use their photos.

The photographic team was deployed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in December when the picture was taken.

You can see more photos and read Kevin Hanrahan’s blog HERE.

More on the British Army 4-legged troopers is available  HERE.

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.

 

A Snow Day for Military Working Dogs in Korea, Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Mark Bush, 8th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, takes a break from validation training with Iian, 8th SFS military working dog, at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Jan. 4, 2012. The Wolf Pack enjoyed their first snow day of the year.

Staff Sgt. Mark Bush, 8th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, takes a break from validation training with Iian, 8th SFS military working dog, at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Jan. 4, 2012.

There’s no question that the military working dogs work hard and have saved many lives in Afghanistan.

Military working dogs are serving elsewhere like Korea. And just like school students and daily workers – the military working dogs enjoy an occasional “snow day.”

The photo of the week from Kevin Hanrahan lets us share in enjoyment of military working dogs on their snow day.

But snow didn’t mean play for all military working dogs. The military working dogs at Bagrahm Air Base in Afghanistan spent their snow day training to keep their explosive sense of smell sharp.

You can see more of Kevin Hanrahan’s military working dogs photos here.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Garrett Grenier, a dog handler, and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Drake, a mine-detection dog, conduct training at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 8, 2013. Grenier and Drake are both members of the 49th Engineer Detachment (mine dogs), and train on a regular basis with real explosives in order to sharpen Drake’s detection skills. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Bonebrake, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan –  U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Drake, a mine-detection dog, on a training at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 8, 2013. Drake is a member of the 49th Engineer Detachment (mine dogs), and trains on a regular basis with real explosives in order to sharpen Drake’s detection skills. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Bonebrake, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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