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Tag: soldiers

Disabled dog gets in on homecoming

Excited dogs greeting returning soldiers have become an Internet staple, but here’s one with a special twist.

Emma, a pitbull mix who suffers from a congenital anomaly that affects her spine — leaving her front legs only partially functioning and her back legs useless — didn’t let that stop her when her human returned from a six-month deployment.

She pulled and slid herself across the floor to greet him, along with the other two family dogs.

Melissa Swanson uploaded the video of her returning husband and excited dogs on YouTube.

“Emma and her daddy were very close! It broke her heart when he left,” she wrote. “When I come in the door, she normally sits at the end of the hallway and waits for me to pick her up. This time, when her daddy came in, she went to him … Gotta love homecomings!”

The Swansons heard of Emma through SNARR  (Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation), and became her foster parents. They’ve since decided to adopt her. They’re still trying to find the perfect cart for Emma — one that will require her to keep using her front legs without putting too much pressure on them.

You can learn more about Emma on her Facebook page.

Speaking of curious routes …

A good year before I was born, my father wrote a letter while sitting in Korea, and sent it back home to friends in North Carolina.

A week ago, it came back to him — in Arizona.

“It’s so damn cold in here that I just about can make my fingers work,” the letter begins. “… Even so , it’s indoors, so I can imagine how really miserable the boys living in holes are tonight…”

Typewritten on flimsy stationary, the letter goes on to recount a weekend in Tokyo during which he enjoyed burgers and “Jap beer, which is very good.” He asks about what’s going on back home and wonders when he might return. “I’m supposed to come home in February. And now there is a rumor making the rounds that we’re supposed to be rotated to Japan after 10 months in Korea. So I don’t really know what’s going to happen.”

It was mailed to Lil and Roy Thompson, friends and co-workers at the Winston-Salem Journal, both now deceased.

Apparently Lil filed it away in a book, to be specific, an autobiography of William “Billy” Rose, the showman and lyricist who wrote, among other songs, “Me and My Shadow” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

I don’t know whether Lil parted with the book long ago, or whether it was part of her estate when she died a few years ago, but somehow it ended up among the stock of a second-hand book dealer in Carrboro, N.C.

Robert Garni, once he opened the book, found the letter and read it, took to the Internet to locate my father, Bill Woestendiek, then mailed him the original, along with this note:

” … Quite coincidentally, the other day while sorting out some used books for sale, I came across an old letter that had apparently been tucked away in a hardcover copy of Billy Rose’s autobiography …

“Upon examination of the letter, I realized it may be of some sentimental value to someone and therefore I did a quick search of the Internet where I was able to locate your full name and current address. I am enclosing the letter herewith. I am hoping my information is correct and current so that this letter may finally return to its rightful owner.”

In my father’s letter, he mentions what turned out to be his most cherished memory of the war. He was a lieutenant in the Army, but he was also writing a weekly column for his newspaper back home called “Battle Lines.” The columns weren’t so much about the war as they were Korea and its people. Most of the stories he wrote focused on the children, often orphans of war, and the poverty in which they lived.

His stories led to an outpouring of support from back home in North Carolina — hundreds of pounds of clothing and toys were donated by readers, shipped overseas and distributed at a Christmas party.

“I am overwhelmed, no kidding,” he writes in the letter of the readers’ response. “We’ll have clothes for our party and still some extra to give to the orphanages around here which are also hurting for clothing.”

Reading over those articles, which I found amid my stuff, in a green scrapbook whose binding was falling apart, I understand a little better why he got so misty when, 19 years ago at Los Angeles International Airport, my father watched as my son arrived, a six-month-old, adopted from Korea.

In the faded old letter he thanks Lil for her support, and for keeping him up on the goings on at the newspaper.  “You are one of the best morale builders I have,” he writes.

It took a little help from a thoughtful second-hand book dealer, but, judging from the joyful response my father, now 87, had to getting the letter back, it seems Lil — even though she’s no longer with us – did it again.

Target remembered at candlelight vigil

Target, the dog brought to the U.S. from Aghanistan by one of the soldiers whose lives she was credited with saving — only to be accidentally euthanized by an animal shelter – was remembered in a memorial service last night.

The candlelight vigil was held at the Pima County Animal Shelter in Tucson.

In Afghanistan, Target, a stray befriended by a group of American soldiers, kept a suicide bomber who was trying to enter a building on a military base from gaining access. Instead, the bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.

Phoenix soldier Terry Young brought Target back home to Arizona.  Last month, the dog escaped from Young’s yard and ended up in at the Pinal County animal shelter in Casa Grande, where she was accidentally euthanized the next day. The employee responsible for the mistake has been suspended.

Young said his son, Tavius, and the rest of the family is still working to get over the dog’s death, according to KGUN9.

“It’s been a few weeks already and Tavius still says, ‘Where’s Target?’ It’s heartbreaking.”

Hero dog accidentally euthanized

Target — a dog credited with saving soldiers lives in Afghanistan, and brought to the U.S. by one of them — was accidentally euthanized yesterday at an Arizona animal shelter.

Target’s owner, Sgt. Terry Young, found out his dog had been killed when he showed up at the shelter to claim her.

The dog had escaped from his backyard over the weekend.

“When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,” Ruth Stalter, Pinal County animal-control director, said in a statement. “Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.” 

The county is investigating the accidental euthanization at its Casa Grande shelter.

In Afghanistan, Target snapped and barked at a suicide bomber, who was trying to enter a building on a military base. The bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.

“I just can’t believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog,” Young told the Arizona Republic.

When he returned to the U.S., Young brought Target with him to his home in the Phoenix area.

A county spokesman said a shelter employee has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Young said he found the gate to his backyard open on Friday morning, the day after Veterans Day.

Heather Murphy, a spokeswoman for Pinal County, said Target was found by a nearby resident, who put her in his backyard and called the pound.

Later that night Young saw Target’s picture on a website used by Pinal County’s animal control office, and, assuming the shelter was closed for the weekend, figured she would be safe until he could pick her up Monday.

When he arrived, he filled out some forms and a staff member brought him another dog. Young then showed the employee a picture of his dog. Then he waited for an hour.

According to the Republic, Young saw one worker sobbing. And the director of the shelter told him there had been a mistake.

Faith takes her message of hope to soldiers

Faith, the two-legged dog, continues to spread inspiration — most recently last weekend when she visited McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis in Washington state.

Faith met thousands of soldiers — some headed to war, some coming back.

“She just walks around barking and laughing and excited to see them all,” Faith’s owner, Jude Stringfellow, told the Associated Press.

“There is a lot of crying, pointing and surprise. From those who have lost friends or limbs, there can be silence. Some will shake my hand and thank me, some will pat her on the head. There is a lot of quiet, heartfelt, really deep emotion.”

Faith, a Lab-chow mix, was born to a junkyard dog around Christmas of 2002. Her mother rejected her and she was rescued by Jude Stringfellow’s son, Rueben, now in the Army. The mother and son taught the dog to walk on her rear legs — using peanut butter and a lot of practice.

Since then Faith has done the talk show circuit, and Stringfellow has become a motivational speaker. She has written two books about Faith and is working on a third, “Faith Walks.”

They get more than 200 letters and e-mails a day, run a website and make dozens of appearances every year, including stops at veterans’ hospitals across the country to cheer injured soldiers.

Rueben Stringfellow left Iraq in September and is stationed in Alaska. He is scheduled to get out of the Army and head home on Jan. 1.

Veterans Day: To many more happy returns

Former Iraqi dog “Nubs” on Today Show

dennisnubs.jpgNubs, the one-time Iraqi street mutt — so named by American soldiers for the stubs where his ears used to be — appeared on this morning’s Today Show, along with the Marine major who rescued him.

Nubs befriended Marine Major Brian Dennis and his fellow soldiers while Dennis was on patrol in the Anbar province.

When Dennis was required to report to another location, 70 miles away, he bid his friend farewell and left with little hope that Nub would survive on the war torn streets. Already, the dog had his ears cut off, and had been stabbed in the side with a screwdriver — both, Dennis believes, by Iraqi soldiers.

Two days after Dennis arrived at his new location, Nubs showed up.

Dennis said he was inside headquarters when a fellow Marine came in and said, “You’re not going to believe who’s outside.”

“Who’s outside?” Dennis asked.

“Nubs is outside,” the soldier said.

After a joyful reunion, Dennis was informed that, since the military prohibits keeping dogs in war zones, he had four days to get rid of him. Given the bond they’d established and the dangers Nubs faced, Dennis was hesitant to do that.

Strays in Iraq, Dennis said today, serve as a needed escape for soliders — “an escape from the drudgery and the mundane life and the bad things you see at times.”

Dennis and his friends launched an Internet campaign and raised $5,000 to send Nubs to a friend in the U.S..

In March 2008, about a month after Nubs arrived, Dennis returned from Iraq and was reunited with the dog.

Now the whole story has become a book, “Nubs, the True Story of a Mutt,  a Marine and a Miracle.”