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09-25-12, 03:12 PM #1
Ex-Marine, bomb-sniffing dog he handled in war are reunited
UNION GROVE — For former U.S. Marine Travis Peterson, the hardest thing he ever did in his life was leave his pregnant wife to deploy to Afghanistan, knowing they might not see each other again.
The second toughest, he said, was leaving his bomb-sniffing dog, Cash II, in Afghanistan to come home.
But the tale of handler Cpl. Travis Peterson and Cash, his faithful companion and retired bomb detector, has an ending that literally makes Cash’s tail wag. More on that later.
Paddock Lake native Peterson, now 23, enlisted in the Marines when he was 18. Although a dog lover, Peterson said he originally had no particular skills to be a dog handler in a war zone. “Honestly, it fell in my lap,” he said.
In January 2011, the Marines sent him to train for five weeks in South Carolina with Cash, a black Labrador retriever born in April 2007.
The dog had been trained by a civilian contractor to the Marine Corps in basic discipline and hunting skills essential to locating “improvised explosive devices,” or IEDs. Cash had done a previous deployment in Afghanistan in 2010.
During training, Peterson learned to give Cash verbal, visual and whistle commands. If Cash smelled explosives, he was trained to stop 6 to 10 feet away, lie down and look back at his handler. His body language when he sensed explosives was Peterson’s cue that Cash had found something.
During the weapons training that followed in 29 Palms, Calif., the desert nights could be frigid, and Peterson would sometimes pull Cash into his sleeping bag for warmth.
“The training was long and hard,” Peterson said, “and through it all we created a bond together that would last forever.”
Peterson and Cash deployed to Helmand Province, in southwest Afghanistan, in April 2011. Their battalion had 13 explosive-detecting dogs, Peterson said.
They came back with 11.
During deployment together, Peterson and Cash always had at least one patrol a day — sometimes two or three.
Most of their patrols were near villages and didn’t result in any bomb finds, Peterson said. However, while searching near a known IED route, Cash did find a bomb.
“He quite possibly saved my life,” Peterson said.
Ex-Marine, bomb-sniffing dog he handled in war are reunitedDo not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
09-26-12, 07:06 AM #2
Well done both, now enjoy your bigger family.
May they live very long, and quiet, lives together.
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