- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rebecca Frankel
Chief Canine Correspondent
It was almost exactly this time last year when we met Lucky, a MWD who lived up to his name having survived two bouts with cancer and who, at ten years old, was just gearing up for his fourth deployment. Sadly, while on tour in Kyrgyzstan last August, just five days before their deployment was set to end, Lucky’s handler noticed another tumor growing on the dog’s hind leg. It would be the third and final round for the seasoned war dog, who died stateside in September. As Maj. Garon Shelton put it, cancer was the ‘only battle he would lose.'”
In a memorial service held yesterday at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington, soldiers paid tribute to their squad’s fallen canine, a Belgian Malinois whose bright eyes and floppy ears belied the dog’s tougher, working side. Those paying their respects remember Lucky as cool under fire, incredibly fast, and ultimately fearless. “‘He could take anyone down to the ground,’ Major Shelton said during the service.”
Lucky came to Fairchild AFB in 2003 and during his many years of service he worked with a total nine handlers, served 5 tours (which included Iraq and Afghanistan), worked on a number of details for govt. officials and was “called out on 31 emergency events locally, including bomb threats.” His claim to bomb-sniffing fame came while deployed in Afghanistan in 2008, when he uncovered some C-4 planted on a generator.
The Spokesman-Review, a local Spokane publication, covered Lucky’s story over the years. In addition to some great photos there’s also a 2010 video of Lucky running drills with his then handler, Staff Sgt. Gerald Martinez — the pair had just completed a tour in Iraq. It seems there was more than one handler on base hoping to adopt Lucky when he was ready to retire from service. “He’s just a big kid,” Staff Sgt. Martinez said at the time, grinning sheepishly. “He’s just a big goof ball.”