Military dogs provide such a vital role to our troops. They save lives, bring companionship and teach respect and loyalty. Meet Lucca, a dog that rises to the top tier of that already high bar set, and is personally responsible for saving hundreds of lives – at the risk of her own.
Just last week, she was awarded the highest level of honor of any U.S. Marine Corps dog ever, The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal, for her bravery and conviction.
Lucca is a gorgeous German Shepherd, who during her decorated career, was on over 400 combat tours with the allied troops, in both Iraq and Afghanistan. She served six years of service for the U.S. Marine Corps. During those tours, she saved thousands while going about her day and performing her work.
Lucca never faltered, never wavered in her duties and could be counted on to perform no matter the time of day or night – no matter if she was tired or not in the mood. Lucca was always in the mood. She loved what she did and loved being a part of the team.
No one ever doubted her skills and all were safe when Lucca was on patrol with them. Lucca was part of a team that detected IEDs. The level of precision needed for this invaluable skill is well understood.
Lucca’s career came to an abrupt halt when she lost her leg on her final combat tour in March of 2012, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Lucca was on patrol, on duty, and had signaled on an IED on the way to their compound. As she started sweeping for secondary IEDs, a devise detonated under her and blew off her lower front leg.
“The explosion was huge and I immediately feared the worst for Lucca,” Lucca’s handler during that mission, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez said according to the PDSA press release.
“I ran to her and saw her struggling to get up. I picked her up and ran to the shelter of a nearby tree line; applied a tourniquet to her injured leg and called the medics to collect us.”
Another Lucca fan, Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham states proudly that Lucca has saved his life on many occasions. Dogs are sensitive and Willingham says he has personally seen dogs go through a lot less than Lucca’s injury and suffer so much more. Not his Lucca.
The silly dog has the same zest for life, as she did prior to the injury. Lucca has the same personality after the tragic injury that she had before losing a leg to that devastating last tour. A quality that is what Willingham loves best about his best friend.
“She is the only reason I made it home to my family and I am fortunate to have served with her. Today, I do my best to keep her spoiled in her well-deserved retirement.” – Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham
Her spirit is what Willingham admires most and now, as a 12-year-old retired veteran, Lucca shares her golden years with Willingham and his family. But, according to Willingham, she is just as active as ever, which is apparent by the video, showing this happy live-life-to-the-fullest girl enjoying retirement. Life is great, says Lucca. Life is great indeed.