The Citizen Soldier

 The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.
–George S. Patton Jr.

Military guys are rarely as smart as they think they are, and they’ve never gotten over the fact that civilians run the military.
–Maureen Dowd

Operation Hero: The Army Finds an Iraqi Dog and Brings Her to the United States


Dogs and the military go together like bacon and eggs.

On a deployment, I once approached a leashed Malinois, the Belgian cousin to a German Shepherd. They are military working dogs (MWDs) and probably should not be bothered. But I chatted up the handler anyway, who let me pet the dog. It was a little slice of home in a place most assuredly not.

And at NAVCENT, I used to pause at the Military Working Dog (MWD) kennel, to see if any of the pooches were out and about.

So when I saw this picture:

Hero, Justin Rollins’ dog

And then read the story, a blog entry by an ABC News 20/20 reporter, I was hooked. The media team had traveled to Newport, New Hampshire to speak to Army Specialist Justin Rollins’ family. Justin was an 82nd Airborne Soldier, stationed in Samara, Iraq. And he had tragically passed away from an IED explosion.

The family had a picture of their son holding Hero up from when the dog had been a puppy. And he had sent it to his fiancee, Brittney Murray, the day before he had died.

Army Specialist Justin Rollins and Hero the Dog

The family asked the Army brass at Justin’s funeral if they could find the dog from the above picture. Push comes to shove and the Army runs Operation Hero. Of course, they locate the lucky canine and deliver her to the Rollins.

The ABC reporter, Kimberly Launier, had the following to say about the picture of Hero standing in the ray of light:

I was filming soldier Justin Rollin’s parents Skip and Rhonda playing with their dog Hero, whose rescue from the Iraq War zone where Justin died was nothing short of a miracle.

Sometimes when Rhonda hugged Hero she would softly pet her face and coo, “Justin, are you in there?”  It was Rhonda’s gentle way of remembering their son and his last living connection to Hero. At one point, Hero wandered off and took a stroll in the backyard. All of a sudden, the clouds broke and a light began to solidify in a beam directly down on Hero — a kind of vertical halo.

What a great picture, moving story. After the dog returned to the States, Hero traveled to New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes’s office. And guess what Hero did?

The puppy soon hit the tarmac, and began earning impressive frequent flier miles traveling from Iraq, Bahrain, Brussels and New York before finally landing in New Hampshire to a full-blown media circus fit for a rock star. At Congressman Paul Hodes’s office, little Hero claimed the territory her own.

She christened the carpet,” remembered Rhonda.

Reporters crowd Hero

I am a sucker for dog stories. Cat tales? Sure, why not. Here’s one, nothing more than an after-dinner mint really.

Matilda III is the house cat at the Algonquin Hotel. If the hotel’s name sounds familiar, it should. It was home to Dorothy Parker and the Round Table. As for Matilda:

The city’s favorite feline, a blue-eyed ragdoll, took up residence last winter. She’s the 10th Algonquin cat since Rusty, aka Hamlet I, moved into the hotel, legendary home of the “Round Table” literary salon, in 1932.

The pampered pussies are as much a part of The Algonquin’s cozy confines as the oak paneling and upholstered chairs and sofas. Hotel staff have delighted in pointing out Matilda’s hiding places to guests.

Matilda III at the Algonquin Hotel

New York City’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene has struck again. The cat now must be caged or leashed.

So the city can’t sweep some hippies, the Occupy Wall Streeters, out of a park. And the mayor enforces restrictions on trans-fats and salt. Now he seems intent on adding a puddycat to that list.