Killed in Iraq, dog team buried together
By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 24, 2007 6:38:59 EDT
The first military working dog team killed in action together since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were laid to rest together July 18.
Cpl. Kory D. Wiens, 20, of the 94th Mine Dog Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and his partner, Cooper, were killed July 6 by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Muhammad Sath, Iraq. They had been in Iraq since January.
The cremated remains of Wiens and Cooper, a Labrador Retriever, were buried together at Salt Creek Cemetery in Wiens’ hometown of Dallas, Ore., at the request of his family, said Master Sgt. Matt McHugh, the family’s casualty assistance officer.
“Kory referred to Cooper as his son, that’s now much of a team they were,” McHugh said.
McHugh added that based on his own research, the last military canine team to be killed together was during the Vietnam War.
The Army has 578 dog teams, and they have served several hundred rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Hans Freimarck, the military working dog coordinator for the Army Dog Program.
Freimarck said he didn’t know the last time a canine team was killed together, but Wiens and Cooper were the first for operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
“Most military dog handlers look at [their relationship with their dog] as a marriage,” Freimarck said. “You give to the dog, the dog gives back to you. Every dog handler has a firm attachment to his dog and any dog in the military.”
Wiens and Cooper made up a specialized search detachment trained to find firearms, ammunition and explosives. Being on a specialized search team means more training, and Cooper, who was no more than 4 years old, did his job without a leash.
Cooper was Wiens’ first military working dog, and Wiens was Cooper’s first handler, McHugh said.
Wiens’ family is doing as well as can be expected, and their small community has been very supportive, McHugh said.
Residents of Dallas lined the streets to honor the funeral procession, which was accompanied by local law enforcement vehicles and the Patriot Guard Riders, a national organization of motorcycle enthusiasts who pay tribute to fallen service members.
Thirty-seven dog teams from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and area police departments attended the service, McHugh said.
Wiens was named after his grandfather, who was a military canine handler during the Korean War. He is survived by his parents, Kevin and Judith, three siblings and his extended family. Wiens’ older brother Kevin is serving his second tour in Iraq as a military police officer.
07 August 2007
This one can't wait 'til Monday...