KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – All around the world, thousands of K-9’s serve or have served alongside service members in every branch of our military, and when those dogs retire, they’re considered veterans.
Marine Corps Sergeant Rush served six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped save countless lives by detecting dangerous IED’s.
The Veterans Heritage Site Foundation is working to build a War Dog Memorial Dog Park here in Knoxville.
It will be part of the Veteran’s Memorial Park at Sharp’s Ridge. Today, at a march to raise money for that park, we caught up with Sgt. Rush and his handler.
If you ask Marine Corporal Chad Wood what his K-9 partner Sgt. Rush meant to him in the military, you’ll get one of two answers.
The funny one… “It’s great; you have someone you can talk to and tell everything to and you ain’t got to worry about them telling on you.”
And the serious one… “We found many IED’s together. We even found a 500 lb V-BIED one time. We went though a lot together.”
A V-BIED is a vehicle used as a container for an explosive device.
Marilyn Childress with the Veterans Heritage Site Foundation says, “They’re out point by themselves, their handler’s not with them. Trying to find the bombs for these guys so that they don’t get blown up and for them to do what they do and love it is just amazing to me.”
Sharing that amazing story is the whole purpose behind the dog park at Sharp’s Ridge.
How appropriate that Sgt. Rush served as Grand Marshal for Sunday afternoon’s War Dog Memorial March at Pellissippi State.
He and Corporal Wood spent nine months together serving in Afghanistan, they see even more of each other now.
Upon Sgt. Rush’s retirement, the Wood family adopted him.
“He’s so relaxed. I mean, all he does is just sit around on the couch and eat hot dogs. He’s just a normal dog now. He loves playing with my daughter Reese,” Wood said.
Normal? Sure, but with a record of extraordinary service. The military families at this event couldn’t be happier these four-legged heroes will finally be getting lasting, long overdue recognition.
Chief Master Sergeant Shaun Withers saying, “They’re our brothers and sisters out there just like you and I would be out there or she and I would be out there. So, it’s a big deal that we recognize their accomplishments and what they’ve contributed to our freedoms.”
In case you’re wondering Sgt. Rush is 12 now.
As for the park honoring war dogs, the Veterans Heritage Site Foundation hopes to have it constructed within two years.
The Veterans Heritage Site Foundation is a non-profit organization, if you would like to help them out, you can donate here.