Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Parachutist’s family brings Peg home from Afghanistan

By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent Peg featured prominently in Private Conrad Lewis’s letters to his family from Afghanistan and when Pvt. Lewis went home on leave for Christmas last year he told his family that when his tour was over, he wanted to bring Peg home with him. Peg, short for Pegasus ...

551964_110708_peg2.jpg
551964_110708_peg2.jpg

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

Peg featured prominently in Private Conrad Lewis's letters to his family from Afghanistan and when Pvt. Lewis went home on leave for Christmas last year he told his family that when his tour was over, he wanted to bring Peg home with him.

Peg, short for Pegasus (the emblem the parachutists wear on their sleeves), is a caramel colored stray dog that Lewis adopted and looked after her at his base in Helmand Province. The dog took to Lewis a young, paratrooper at 22, and trailed after him wherever he went -- on patrol, through firefights, and sleeping with the unit at night. Apparently, she was a natural war dog who didn't flinch while under fire and while "on patrols Peg would sit down when the [paratroopers] took cover, then run alongside him as his platoon advanced."

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

Peg featured prominently in Private Conrad Lewis’s letters to his family from Afghanistan and when Pvt. Lewis went home on leave for Christmas last year he told his family that when his tour was over, he wanted to bring Peg home with him.

Peg, short for Pegasus (the emblem the parachutists wear on their sleeves), is a caramel colored stray dog that Lewis adopted and looked after her at his base in Helmand Province. The dog took to Lewis a young, paratrooper at 22, and trailed after him wherever he went — on patrol, through firefights, and sleeping with the unit at night. Apparently, she was a natural war dog who didn’t flinch while under fire and while “on patrols Peg would sit down when the [paratroopers] took cover, then run alongside him as his platoon advanced.”

But when Pvt. Lewis and another member of his team were tragically killed when they came under fire while on a foot patrol on February 9, Peg was left forlorn and without her companion. 

During Lewis’s funeral, friends told the fallen soldier’s family members that Peg was still at the checkpoint where Lewis had been stationed. That’s when the family decided they were going to bring Peg back to the United Kingdom to live with them. The family knew how much this dog had meant to their son. In March, Lewis’s father told the Mirror that: “[This dog] was the link to Conrad and the job that he did and knowing how much he loved her and had wanted to bring her home, we wanted to complete the task.”

With the help of a nonprofit organized specifically to rescue stray and abandoned animals from Iraq and Afghanistan a daring rescue was planned:

“Peg had to be smuggled out of the Nad Ali district by Conrad’s pals, who hid her in a bag and hitched a helicopter ride. Afghan Police then drove her to Kabul, where she stayed at a dog shelter before being passed fit to fly.”

Peg is now in quarantine where she’ll be until November. Pvt. Lewis’s family visits her often. You can watch a BBC video of Peg happily playing with Lewis’s family here

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. Twitter: @tomricks1

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