PDA

View Full Version : Dogs of War



PhinPhan1227
04-14-2003, 12:52 PM
[ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 4/9/03 ]


Puppy dogs of war lift spirits of troops in Iraq

By ART HARRIS
For The Journal-Constitution

NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- After one firefight on the Euphrates River, the acrid smoke cleared and a U.S. Marine handed Staff Sgt. Nelson Hidalgo two casualties of the war and poverty in Iraq.

The mother was dying of hunger, unable to nurse her young, who were on the verge of starving, too. The "barbarians," as Marines with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance unit are called, were about to become proud parents.

"We scooped the babies right up," said Hidalgo, nodding at the white puppy chowing down on a military MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) of pasta and vegetables beneath the gun turret of the armored vehicle.

"She only eats Italian food."

Hidalgo's platoon was fresh from fighting its way out of an ambush 80 miles south of Baghdad.

The Marines got out, and so did Mary Jane, an all-white fluff ball, and her twin brother, Nas, named after the southern Iraqi city where the unit has been fighting. He is black with white paws.

Consider them two very lucky pups of war.

"Makes you feel good they are not living like other dogs in Iraq," said Hidalgo. Mary Jane rides with him and his crew. Nas rides with tough-talking Gunnery Sgt. Russell Strack, whose post-puppy personality change has stunned some of the Marines.

In the last week, Strack and Nas have bonded.

Nas travels on Strack's vehicle and curls up at night in Strack's sleeping bag. He bites Strack's ear and yips when he needs to get out.

"He's one smart dog," said Strack.

When Nas was missing in action one morning, Strack and his fellow Marines scrambled to find him. He was nowhere.

Then one Marine said, "Gunny, did you check the sleeping bag?"

Sure enough, when Strack shook the sleeping bag, there was Nas.

"He wasn't very happy with us," said Strack, "but we gave him a beef and mushroom MRE, and he got over it."

"Gunny is hard-core, a real tough Marine," a lance corporal said. "Ever since he had the puppy, he's like a little kid. He doesn't yell as much."

"I never yell," said Strack. "I just motivate."

Indeed, he's motivating Nas as part drill instructor, part adoptive dad, taking pride as the pup parades about the 17-ton LAV as if it was a giant doghouse on eight wheels.

Both Nas and Mary Jane love to be petted, and the Marines can't seem to keep their hands off the unit's unofficial mascots.

The pets have perked up spirits, many Marines said, at a time when no one has had showers in three weeks and soldiers sleep on the rock-hard ground.

"It helps your morale. It gives you something to play with at night when you are on watch, instead of smoking a cigarette. You can play with a dog," said Caleb Green, 18, of Tupelo, Miss. He loves dogs, and said he grew up with a German shepherd and a golden retriever.

"It kind of makes Iraq feel a little bit like home."

Strack did not think the dogs would survive, given their condition when they were found.

"I didn't think Nas would make it at first," he said. But after several feedings of Similac mixed with water, Nas quickly graduated to MREs -- high-cal, high-protein Marine Corps food.

"I've got a big back yard near Camp Lejeune" in North Carolina, said Strack. "I've told all the guys Nas can run around there and live with me until he's ready to go home with one of my Marines."

But first the Marines have to try to figure out how to get Nas and Mary Jane home.

And that could involve quarantine and fighting a war with bureaucracy that could be tougher than the one on the ground in Iraq.

"We've brought back all sorts of things before," said one Marine. "If I have to, I'll smuggle Nas and Mary Jane back. We ain't gonna leave them here to die in Iraq."

themole
04-15-2003, 01:56 PM
Goes to show...the American fighting man...the Marines...that ole battle toughened Gunnie... still has room for compasion for mans "best friend".

De-Toqueville said: America is good because its people are good.

I think??? And if he didn't...he should have!:D

PhinPhan1227
04-15-2003, 02:50 PM
I believe so....but my favorite military quote is still the Soviet general who said that the American Soldier is effective because, while we have good doctrine, we don't always follow it, and when we don't follow it, we're totaly unpredictable.

themole
04-15-2003, 03:20 PM
Originally posted by PhinPhan1227
I believe so....but my favorite military quote is still the Soviet general who said that the American Soldier is effective because, while we have good doctrine, we don't always follow it, and when we don't follow it, we're totaly unpredictable.

There's your answer as to why...that wall came tumbleing down.:lol: