Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Camp Lejeune Kennels Named in fallen handler’s honor

In July 2012, Marine Sgt. Joshua Ashley was KIA in Helmand Province, Afghanistan after stepping on an IED during a combat operation. (His dog Sirius was not in the attack.) On March 27, the 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion’s MWD kennel facility at his home station — Camp Lejeune in North Carolina — was named in his honor.

Military kennel building named in honor of Sgt. Joshua R. Ashley
Sgt. Joshua Ashley’s mother, center, cuts the ribbon held by Lt Col. David Hyman aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 27, 2015. The cutting of the ribbon signifies the commemorative naming of 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion’s Military Working Dog Kennel Building in honor of Ashley. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Krista James/Released)

 

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

In July 2012, Marine Sgt. Joshua Ashley was KIA in Helmand Province, Afghanistan after stepping on an IED during a combat operation. (His dog Sirius was not in the attack.) On March 27, the 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion’s MWD kennel facility at his home station — Camp Lejeune in North Carolina — was named in his honor.

In attendance were Ashley’s family (seen above), close friends, and his fellow handlers — those who worked with him at Lejeune, trained with him at the Inter-Service Advance Skills K9 Course (ISAK) at Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona, and who served with him in Afghanistan, like Sgt. Kent Ferrell.

Ferrell’s dog Zora died from wounds she received after a grenade attack three days before Ashley was killed. And he was the handler who took care of Sirius — Ashley’s dog — after he was killed. A sad but fitting surrogacy for both handler and dog.

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Remembering Ashley to Lance Cpl. Immanuel Johnson, who covered the commemoration ceremony in March, Ferrell summed up what a lot of people say about the handler who had fondly been called “Shrek” and “The Hulk.”

“At first glance he was an intimidating guy,” said Sgt. Kent Ferrell, a Military Working Dog Handler with 2nd LEB, and native of Bel Air, Maryland. “He’s probably the most genuine person I’ve ever met in my life.”

Sirius is still working, having had a couple of new handlers since he lost his human partner almost three years ago. And, aside from having a bit of jaw trouble after playing with his ball, as one of his recent handlers told me this week, he’s doing well.

In the second photo, MWD Sirius, at a memorial ceremony in the Regional Command Southwest chapel, on Aug. 17, 2012.

U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Krista James/Released; U.S. Marine Corps/ Cpl Mark Garcia

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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