VxPoem ID: 26021
Posted: December 16th. 2006 1:41:23 AM
PART FOUR SEMPER FIDO
Age Group: Adult
Lava, the dog who got Jay Kopelman to let down his guard.
From Reader's DigestDecember 2006
Daring Rescue Plan
For most of January and February 2005, I worked at the Joint Task Force in Balad, replacing a lieutenant colonel there. I had great accommodations: a trailer with a real bed, a refrigerator, a wall locker. We also had a gym and plasma TVs in our command center. It might have been a great mission, except I worried about Lava. I knew he was safe with the Marines back at Camp Fallujah, but I was trying to save his life.
For a while Corporal Matt Hammond watched him, even building him a little plywood hooch, which the guys filled with toys and blankets and hid in the commanding general's personal security detachment, the last place on earth anyone would think to look. Then we came up with a plan to get Lava to Baghdad, where he would be vaccinated. The guys managed to convoy there, and at a prearranged time and place handed Lava off to journalist Anne Garrels, whom I'd become friendly with and who promised, by e-mail, to watch him for a few weeks at her National Public Radio (NPR) compound.
The hand-off was a bit of an ordeal, I heard later. Matt struggled to remain emotionless, while Anne grabbed Lava and left. Lava didn't have a collar or a leash, so she had to carry the now-large puppy back to the car. Luckily her Iraqi driver didn't object; most Iraqis did not like dogs. When I read Anne's e-mail from Baghdad, not even Patton's presence could have kept my tears from flowing. "Just to confirm that Lava is safely with me..."
Was I a gutless wimp? Maybe.
Anne would e-mail me with updates whenever she could: "Lava is happy." "He's incredibly affectionate." "He sits beautifully."
Next Page: Passing the Test
Author's Notes: POSTED BY LADYK
Author's Location: Washington, Washington DC
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