Warrior Animals

DSC01173In 2005, I embedded with 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, Oregon National Guard during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We spent September living on the ground not far from the flood waters in North Central New Orleans. While there, the Soldiers rescued a number of starving, sick and dying animals and got them out of the Big Easy with the help of a group of civilian volunteers led by Mark Martin, a pet store owner from Athens, Georgia.  I ended up with one of those animals, an emaciated orange kitten I named Volley. Since then, my household has had three warrior critters, two cats and a dog. Volley came out of horrors of post-Katrina New Orleans, Gates was rescued at Fort Hood, Texas and took part in an epic, three thousand mile road trip, riding shotgun in a Pontiac Solstice. And Gwenie, our latest warrior animal, reached us in November, 2014 after a harrowing life on a military base in Jordan, where she was saved by a U.S. Army Apache pilot and Puppy Rescue Mission, an absolutely awesome non-profit organization that has helped get countless warrior animals home from the Middle East and Afghanistan. IMG-20141014-WA0000




Their lives have touched a lot of people over the years. Vol in particular loved hanging out with the Soldiers of the Oregon Guard. Normally a little reserved and stand-offish, whenever somebody in uniform showed up at my office, he became stupid obsessed with them, crawling in their laps, climbing up their backs, howling if we left him out of the conversation.IMG_6582

Animals have played a vital role in America’s wars. From the mules used in Italy during WWII, the horses of the U.S. Cavalry, war dogs and bomb dogs, to the lion cubs adopted by the Lafayette Escadrille, wherever you find America’s Warriors, there are sure to be warrior animals nearby. This page is dedicated to those critters who made life in the worst of circumstances a little better for those men and women in uniform.

Marine with Surabachi Sue Animal Series Kitten Iwo Jima 02--45 (1 of 1)


5 thoughts on “Warrior Animals

  1. Ann Chambers

    Thank you for rescuing and adopting these babies. What a wonderful, happy ending! God bless you all.

  2. I can’t even begin to describe the joy these stories have brought me. My heart is with all of you animal loving humans,…. and all animals. Do be well. Linda H

    • Thank Linda. Vol was my constant companion until I went to Afghanistan. Now I have Gwen and while she has raised destruction to an 8th Air Force-level art form, she is quite dear to all of us. She’ll be heading back into the woods soon with me, as I’m about to start a new project. Anxious to see how she deals with snow after a year in Oregon. 🙂

      My best to you, and Happy Holidays!

      John B

  3. Marcia

    You mention the Puppy Rescue Mission, did you hear how they came about. That 3 stray dogs befriended the soldiers at an out post and ended up saving the lives of those soldiers. One of the dogs was killed. A suicide bomber entered the post at night and the dogs sensed danger. They put up a ruckus and attacked the intruder and he blew the bomb early.

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