Afghanistan – Operation Redwing was a 2005 SEAL operation in which all members of the team, save one, died. That one, Marcus Luttrell, was severely wounded but managed to reach safety. He wrote about his horrific journey in a New York Times bestseller, “Lone Survivor.”
That should have been enough terror, enough loss for any one man. His physical wounds healed with many surgeries and time, and to help him heal the psychic wounds of the loss of his friends, he was given a puppy. A loving and happy labrador – DASY – her name stood for the first initials of four of his comrades. She did what all good dogs do — she captured his heart, gave him unconditional love and was his best companion.
According to newspaper reports, gunfire woke him one night and he fell back into the training that kept him alive before. He checked on his mother asleep in the house next door, then ran out the door. He found DASY dead — she had tried to crawl away. She had been shot and, as was later learned, kicked while she lay there by one of the two who were finally sentenced yesterday.
It came out in the trial that they thought it was funny, to get out of their car and beat and kick and shoot a dog to death. DASY wasn’t the first dog they had killed, but Marcus Luttrell made sure she was the last. He chased their car while calling 911. The Texas Rangers caught and arrested the two.
The death of any companion animal in such a callous manner is horrible. Knowing what this dog meant to Marcus Luttrell and knowing what these dogs mean to the veterans that depend on them makes it even worse. I have talked to veterans who have told me that their dog is the one who makes it possible for them to sleep, that they feel safe enough finally to sleep more than a few hours a night.
My husband told me about Lucy, the stress dog who was a great comfort to those at small FOBs and larger camps, where she accompanied doctors and psychologists who were counseling stressed service members. Lucy was a lab, who wagged her way through camp, patiently allowing everyone to give her a scratch, a rub, a cookie. Lucy would sit with a soldier, do what all dogs do – lean against a knee and wag, and listen. Listening with love and acceptance, the way dogs listen.
Michael Edmonds pled guilty to, and Alfonso Hernandez was found guilty of cruelty to a non-livestock animal. Their sentence will only be 2 years, and a $10,000 fine. Is this enough for taking the life of such a loving companion? Remembering my own dogs, who lived long and happy lives, I cannot say it is. I think I would want more.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Herwig Kavallar(This is not a photo of DASY)