Together again: Dog and Marine reunited
Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach, while serving in Afghanistan, made a promise to Casey, the explosive-detecting yellow Lab who worked alongside him.
“I promised her if we made it out of alive, I’d do whatever it took to find her,” Gundlach said.
Gundlach, after completing his military service and enrolling at the University of Wisconsin, managed to find out that Casey had finished her military service and been sent to work for the state of the Iowa, detecting explosives.
Knowing it was probably just the first round of a long bureaucratic battle, Gundlach wrote to State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds, explaining the connection he felt with the four-year-old dog who’d been both lifesaver and companion. Gundlach wears a tattoo on his right forearm depicting Casey with angel wings and a halo.
But, as reported by the Associated Press, things happened quickly.
“He’s been putting a case together for the last two months, sending me pictures,” Reynolds said. “ … It just tugged on your heart.”
Reynolds got in touch with the Iowa Elk’s Association, and it agreed to donate $8,500 to buy another dog for the fire marshal’s office.
Then, he got in touch with Gundlach, telling him that he needed to come to the state Capitol in Des Moines on Friday to plead his case before a “bureaucratic oversight committee.”
Gundlach, 25, showed up with his parents.
Reynolds told Gundlach the meeting had been delayed, but invited he and his parents to attend an Armed Services Day celebration in the rotunda.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers, military personnel and civilians were already there, and knew — unlike Gundlach — what was about to happen.
That’s when Casey appeared.
A ceremony was held in which Gov. Terry Branstad officially retired Casey from active duty, thanking her for “a job well done.”
Casey was given to Gundlach, who put his head in his hands and cried.
“It was a total surprise,” he said. “I owe her. I’ll just try to give her the best life I can.” During the 150 missions they performed together, Gundlach said Casey never missed an explosive. He credits her for making it back home safely. “I wouldn’t be here … any kids I ever had wouldn’t exist if Casey hadn’t been here,” he said.
His father, Glen Gundlach, seemed just as surprised.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The state of Iowa, I love ‘em.”
(Photos: Charlie Neibergall / AP)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, armed services day, bureaucracy, capitol, casey, des moines, detecting, dog, dogs, explosives, fire, government, iowa, marine, marshal, military, pets, ray reynolds, reunion, reunited, ross gundlach, state