Where did you serve and what did you do?
I am a U.S. Navy Combat Veteran – Vietnam – ’68 – ’69. Gunline Patrol and River duty form An Hoi, South Vietnam to the DMZ with two Combat Operations into North Vietnam. Supplied NGFS for the third U.S. Marines in I Corps – -24/7. Boatswain Mate E-4. First Loader on a 3″ x .50 Cal Twin Anti-aircraft Mount, 5″ x .38 Cal – Ammo/Powder Handler. U.S.S Canberra CA-70.
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
All of my black and yellow Labrador Retrievers that I have owned since 1977, have stood beside me during some of my darkest times struggling with P.T.S.D and enemy engagements that continue to tear at me to this day. They all have been obedience trained by me and field trained for hunting and retrieving. They have become my very best buddies as we share life together doing the two things that take me away from the war in Vietnam — hunting geese and pheasants here in Minnesota and North Dakota. Their constant and faithful companionship has brought a steady dose of balance to me internally. They are always there. I trust them more than I do most people.
These Labs never judge me. They know that something is wrong when I break down emotionally and they offer me a paw or their head to scratch. The road trips with my current Lab, Tucker, in the front bucket passenger seat looking out the window helps me with the pain of those memories.
Because Tucker and all my Labs before him, have been my service dogs, for all these years, I am able to function both mentally and physically, for community outreach and with my VFW Post, as I am now the Senior Vice of Post #6587 and I am the Kraus-Hartig VFW Honor Guard Rifle Squad Leader providing “Full Final Military Honors” for our deceased veterans here in the Twin Cities area.
Tucker in 8 years, has now accounted for 908 geese, ducks and pheasants delivered to my hand. The log book I keep says so! These days that I have had in the field since 1977, with every one of these fantastic companions, has given me my own sense of normal. I will remember and cherish each one of them for the impact and love they provide me.
Why do you do it?
I do it because I love this country and our nation’s military. I never turn down an opportunity to reach out my hand and start a conversation with a veteran. Just to get them to open up. And it helps me enormously inside to talk and listen to their stories as I watch the “Pride of Serving” come to the surface, just as the tears start to flow. Through these conversations, I have met so many outstanding men and women who don’t realize at that time how much of an impact those few minutes have had on us both: Duty, Honor, Country, Debt to America — paid in full!