by A Veteran's Son
Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker & Theo (Credit A.P. photo)
I am writing this memorial not for I, but for a soldier and his faithful companion. I did not know them but their story touched me deeply.
The soldier is Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, 26 years old, a dog handler with the UK Royal Army Veterinary Corps. He was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on March 1 as he searched for explosives with Theo, a bomb-sniffing springer spaniel cross.
The dog suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a British army base.
This is an excerpt from the official AP story that was published Mar 10 2011:
Military officials won't go so far as to say Theo died of a broken heart - but that may not be far from the truth.
"I think we often underestimate the grieving process in dogs," said Elaine Pendlebury, a senior veterinarian with animal charity PDSA. "Some dogs react very severely to their partner's loss.
"The bonding that I have seen between soldiers or police and their dogs is fantastic. When you see them working together, it's really one unit."
A military Hercules plane carrying the body of Tasker and the ashes of Theo was flying Thursday to a Royal Air Force base in southwest England. The funeral cortege was due to pass through the nearby town of Wootton Bassett, where local people line the streets in a mark of respect each time a dead solder is repatriated. The Ministry of Defense said Theo's ashes would be presented to Tasker's family later at a private ceremony...
...Tasker was the 358th British soldier to die in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Theo was the sixth British military dog killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.
There are calls for Theo to receive the Dickin medal, which since 1943 has recognized wartime bravery by animals, from carrier pigeons to a World War II commando collie.
I thank Liam and Theo for their service in our time of war and their devotion to each other. God Bless them...
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