Military deployments present numerous challenges. The nature of the job fosters incredibly strong connections among soldiers, their comrades, and service dogs. Despite the happiness that comes with returning home, bidding farewell to friends is undoubtedly difficult.
On the day that retired U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Harvey Holt was scheduled to depart, he revealed that it was one of the most emotional moments of his Iraq deployment, as he had to part ways with his loyal war dog, Jackson. In an interview with Fox News, he shared:
“I never shed a tear in Iraq. I never cried when I left for Iraq. I never cried when I reunited with my family or met my friends upon my return from Iraq.
However, once I secured the gate, Jackson and I settled inside the kennel, and we wept for a significant hour, maybe even an hour and a half,” Holt continued. “I was aware that it could very well be the last time I would hold that leash, as Jackson had to forge a bond with his new handler.”
The profound love and unwavering loyalty Holt felt towards Jackson stemmed, in part, from an incident on his second day in the war-torn region of Iraq, where the dog played a pivotal role in saving his life. The year was 2006, and their objective was a straightforward mission to sweep a school and ensure the safety of the troops.
Holt and the Belgian Malinois proceeded to the school. Holt reminisced, “My initial task with Jackson… was meant to be a straightforward inspection of a school on the outskirts of Baqubah, Iraq.”
“We entered and commenced searching for weapon caches, explosives, or any objects that military working dog Jackson could uncover, as well as any insurgents who might be concealing themselves within the premises.”
Within moments, they realized that the mission would be far from ordinary. Jackson alerted them to a substantial stockpile of machine guns, bomb-making materials, and ammunition. Subsequently, the two advanced to sweep an 8-foot wall outside the compound.
“Jackson approached a trailer and suddenly halted. I nearly stumbled over him, but he prevented me from moving forward. When I glanced down to ascertain the cause of his reaction, I noticed a tripwire just a foot away from where we were about to step.”
“At the other end of that tripwire were three mortar rounds,” he recounted. “The IED would have detonated, likely resulting in the fatalities of myself and the three Army personnel who were accompanying me that day.”
During Holt’s deployment, Jackson consistently demonstrated unwavering loyalty as a steadfast companion. It was a sorrowful occasion when Holt retired and had to part ways with Jackson. Upon concluding his service, he could only bring along Jackson’s leash and collar.
Upon returning home, Holt grappled with PTSD. He held onto the hope that one day he would have the chance to reunite with Jackson. His hopes materialized seven years later when he received a call, informing him that Jackson was now up for adoption.
“I initially thought it was a jest since everyone around here was aware of my strong desire for Jackson and how frequently I mentioned him,” he recollected.
Shortly after receiving the call, Holt journeyed to Washington DC to collect Jackson. They are currently residing together, enjoying their retirement side by side.
Please share the story of these two war heroes with your family and friends.
Rewritten Source: https://dogdispatch.com/after-7-years-this-veteran-was-reunited-with-the-war-dog-that-saved-his-life/