Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Memorial for first female handler KIA
By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent On January 12, a bronze plaque was unveiled in front of the kennels at Fort Belvoir bearing the facility’s new name: "Sgt. Zainah "Caye" Creamer Military Working Dog Kennels." It was a year ago to the day that Sgt. Creamer succumbed to wounds she sustained in Afghanistan ...
By Rebecca Frankel
By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
On January 12, a bronze plaque was unveiled in front of the kennels at Fort Belvoir bearing the facility’s new name: "Sgt. Zainah "Caye" Creamer Military Working Dog Kennels." It was a year ago to the day that Sgt. Creamer succumbed to wounds she sustained in Afghanistan after her unit was attacked by an insurgent’s IED. She was the first "female working dog handler to be killed in action during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars."
Sgt. Creamer and her detection dog Jofa had deployed to Afghanistan in October 2010. Their job was to search for weapons, working ahead of their unit to sweep for explosives. Jofa, who was across the road from his handler when the explosion occurred and survived the attack unscathed.
The Belvoir Eagle covered the memorial service held in at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and reports that during the ceremony her fellow handlers remembered Sgt. Creamer with fondness and respect as a "leader" who had the "ability to light up a room no matter what the situation."
It was a spirited disposition that, at 28 years of age, she seems to have maintained with ease. Her headquarters battalion commander, Lt. Col. Dwayne Bowyer, remembers that Sgt. Creamer was:
…Determined, focused and happy the day she departed with her unit. ‘Silently, we all knew that we were sending them into harm’s way but we never imagined that Sgt. Creamer would make the ultimate sacrifice doing what she loved.’"
Reportedly after Sgt. Creamer’s death, Jofa’s loss was visible. But, a year later he is still working and, according to Lt. Col. Bowyer, the dog is doing "great" with his new handler.
In other war-dog news: The United States Postal Service has finally issued a set of working-dog stamps. Among the four canines featured are a guide dog, a therapy dog, and a search and rescue dog, and what reports are calling a "tracker dog." The yellow lab featured on the bottom left of the four-square sheet is clearly a MWD. I would hazard a guess and say a bomb detection dog, made obvious by the fatigue-clad handler’s leg visible against the desert-y background. I’ll save the nitpicking and compliment the original paintings, which are the work of John M. Thomas and they’re lovely. It’s enough to make you want to put pen to paper for some good old-fashioned letter writing.
Thomas E. Ricks is a former contributing editor to Foreign Policy. Twitter: @tomricks1
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