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Guardian of patrols: Afghan dog fights like Marine

COMBAT OUTPOST CASTLE, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - Willy Pete constantly looks out for the Marines of Company D, even while they regroup and recharge.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — He defends Marines and sailors with love and tenacity, protecting them as any Marine would protect a brother-in-arms. He is the epitome of man’s best friend, shielding service members from the enemy while providing companionship and camaraderie. His name is Willy Pete, and he’s a warrior, a protector, a friend. He’s also a dog.

Company D, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), arrived in the Khan Neshin District in the summer of 2009 for a seven-month deployment and established a coalition presence in the Southwest part of Afghanistan. The LAR Marines pushed west to gain a firm position in a town called Qal’ah-ye Now, where they found two dogs in a compound that they began using
as a patrol base.

“I believe that Willy believes it’s his duty and an honor to protect us from what may lie ahead.”

— Lance Cpl. Philip Bulford

Khan Neshin - "Willy Pete and Marines with Company D, rest before going out on patrol. Willy has gone on more than 30 combat patrols in the last 60 days."

Before the Marines arrived, the dogs had been beaten and were malnourished. One of the dogs was pregnant and the Marines named her Sandy; the other dog was small and frail, and the Marines fittingly named him Scraggles. The two adopted dogs accepted the Marines as family. Sandy soon had her litter of puppies, one was given the name Willy Pete – military jargon for white phosphorous, a incendiary material used in various types of ammunition. All the puppies were given to local residents to protect farms and herd livestock, but Willy had a different opportunity – he joined the Marines of Company D as their companion.

Scraggles and Sandy grew fond of the Marines in Qal’ah-ye Now and began to protect the patrol base, keeping unwanted dogs and suspicious people away.  Willy soon began to demonstrate the same protective traits of his mother. He also learned how to patrol with the Marines, what a patrol formation was, and how to react when the patrol came in contact with the enemy. Since accompanying his first patrol, Willy has been a welcome family member for three complete combat rotations of each LAR unit that has taken charge of the area in the past two years.

The veteran dog usually takes the lead when the Marines go on patrol now. He stays in front until the Marines pass through the bazaar outside the combat outpost. Local residents often look up in recognition of the dog, who seems to fancy himself a Marine. Willy relocates to a new position once he establishes a clear path for the Marines and begins moving from one side of the patrol to the other, warning Marines of anyone’s approach with a quick bark or a low growl.

The many stray dogs in the area tend to be very aggressive and travel in packs. Willy is routinely spotted scrapping with a pack of wild dogs that approach his fellow Marines.

“I had my squad on a local security patrol in Kala Shureh – we refer to the town as ‘Dog Town’ because of the large amount of wild dogs in the area,”said Sgt. Joshua Davis, a squad leader with Weapons Platoon, 2nd LAR. Willy Pete single- handedly fought off five wild dogs to protect the patrol. After Willy engaged the dogs, my squad was able to push through the village to complete our patrol.”

Willy also remains an integral part of security when the Marines and sailors return to the patrol base. He tours the grounds with the sergeant of the guard, chasing stray dogs out of friendly lines and warning the watchstanders if anyone approaches the outpost.

The Marines said they appreciate Willy’s dedication, as he provides them companionship and demonstrates his loyalty each day by returning to the fight.

“Willy never walks in the other direction or tries to hide when he sees a squad heading out for a patrol,”said Lance Cpl. Philip Bulford, a mortar gunner with the company. “I believe that Willy believes it’s his duty and an honor to protect us from what may lie ahead.”

Willy bears the scars from the explosion of an improvised explosive device and a gunshot wound from an enemy insurgent due to his persistent enthusiasm and unyielding vigor to protect the Marines. Still, his loyalty to the Marines is unrelenting.

“He is a proven veteran and a wounded warrior,”said Staff Sgt. Anthony J. Eichler, the platoon sergeant for Weapons Platoon. “Willy is always tirelessly watching over what I would assume he considers ‘his’ Marines. He is a friend of all Marines, and he works hard every day on patrol and for the security of the outpost. He’s been knocked down a few times, but continues on with the mission just like any Marine would be expected to do.”

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  • alex

    that man needs more than a reality check

  • Georgecleboeuf

    Everyone is dumb. This article was written 10 days ago, with pictures. If the dog was killed, it was do to enemy action, and I doubt he was left behind. He had been with those Marines for 2 years, if someone did order him shot, it’s because he was sick, and untreatable. Example, rabies contracted from fighting wild dogs.

  • KeetonLynda

    Was he killed intentionally?

  • KeetonLynda

    God Bless Willy and the soldiers he’s protecting..

  • Juan

    I believe I’m missing something I been hearing that he was put down to death if that is true who ever ordered that has serous problems!!!!!!!A dog of such loyalty and heroism should never be be put down for whatever the reason is! I did research an I heard that some marines in the 2nd LAR got contaminated with rabies an so they ordered for all the dogs on all combat outpost to be put down.But seriously! if what I heard is true is this a most reasonable reason to put a dog of such courage and loyalty not just to the Marines but to our country to be ordered to be put down!?! I’m telling U if this True U have serous issues!!! and should be ashamed of such given orderes!!! And may Willy Pete and not only him but all service dogs be remembered as well because they as well give their lives to protect the good & right ideas we believe in and fight for!
     Oorah Oorah !!!!!!!!

  • http://www.education4military.com Joe_Cool

    Marine’s Best Friend

  • Brian

    your lame

  • ONI

    I’m pretty sure that his “death” is a hoax, it really looks like it is !
    I’ve read articles about bringing some dogs stateside…
    So this recent honoring and positive article, followed by comments stating Willy is dead, (with supposed 4th LAR “guest” comments giving no proof at all…) is, according to me, a real stupid hoax.

  • Cathy

    Put to death How horrible!!!  He was on our side. Put that general out front.

  • B. Hubbs

    Not being in the military, I have almost know knowledge of rank.  But, after reading the mail re: this article and knowing that you will never find a more faithful friend than a dog, I absolutely agree with Arlene C Blacet.  Put the “General” down very, very deep ASAP

  • Guest

    I was with 4th LAR when all the dogs including scraggles and Sandy were put down.  If Willy made it after we left in April of 2010 then that would be awesome but unfortunately I recall the Castle being empty of dogs…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OLT7VHFKB64VIHXF5SLIV243OM Bruce

    Merry Christmas! Thanks all of
    you, the service person! You have spent another more year to defense our nation
    and guard our safety. Now, it is Christmas, heroes, it is your time to find someone
    who can give you warm. Welcome to__kissinguniform*com_ for friendship, love,
    romance, marriage or even more.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OLT7VHFKB64VIHXF5SLIV243OM Bruce

    Merry Christmas! Thanks all of
    you, the service person! You have spent another more year to defense our nation
    and guard our safety. Now, it is Christmas, heroes, it is your time to find someone
    who can give you warm. Welcome to__kissinguniform*com_ for friendship, love,
    romance, marriage or even more.

  • ECade

    The dog was smarter than the General. He lead by example from the front not the rear.’SEMPERFI’ FIDO

    Former SNCO

  • wake up!

    There is no evidence to support this dog was killed by General’s orders.  Facebook is NOT a proven reliable source.  What is found on the internets should not be taken as factual- especially on social networking sites.  Believe it or not, people actually find it funny to make ridiculous statements to get others riled up.  Look up the word “rumor” (and try using an actual paper dictionary- not “urban dictionary” online.)

  • Jar Head

    I just wonder if his fellow Marines have nominated Willy for the Purple Heart?

  • Aresddog

    He was put down?  On the orders of a general?  Maybe that general should spend more time in the field protecting Marines the way the dog did.

  • Beasleyelectric

    This dog was my son son friend, companion and protector while he was stationed there. We heard he was ordered by the commander to be shot. It is sad that this was ordered to be done after all the protection and love he gave to all of the marines there. Our family made a point to ship food, treats and flea and tick treatment for this dog. Its a sad day when you are gunned down by the people you love and protect.

  • bob

    where does it say this dog was killed?
    article sounds like he is still alive…does anyone know for a fact??

  • taylor

    Where does it say a general gave an order to have him put down? I don’t see it.

  • Godlyladie

    When all the Marines leave Afghanistan, will you be bringing Willie back home with you?  My son was with the Georgia National Guards somewhere there in Afghanistan and they also found a dog.   The dog was brought back to the USA.

  • LJH

    This is disgusting! I would love to know the names of some of these Officers.

  • Jim1269

    whats the Generals name?

  • jslice

    I was really upset when I read he was killed….. so I looked into it, I’ve read NO article saying he was killed but what I did read was that they were trying to bring him stateside (: I guess rumors will spread but look it up

  • Cowoman42

    maybe i’m missing something…i’m reading the comments, and it seems the dog was put down? i didn’t see that in the article.  i think it’s wonderful that the dog feels that loyal to the marines.  he’s truly a veteran and deserving of all the benefits of coming home to america

  • Sgtgrunt2001

    Now there’s a General who needs his ass kicked.  Semper Fi

  • StevethePirate

    I heard it was Major Walker, Deltas CO

  • JungleJayne

    If you check Facebook, there are many commenting on there that also have firsthand knowledge.  Another Marine with another story of his canine companion being put down by his Captain – with six bullets as target practice.  It is heart rending!

  • Westcoastfeatherdown

    As a Marine mom whose son has been to Iraq twice I can’t read this article without crying, I love dogs and it pains me to see them in pain. My son is home now and of course he has a “Porter”, his faithful boxer.
    God protect our Marines & their protectors!

  • guest

    semper fido

  • Tonyagillespie

    This is what America has become and how we reward those who sacrafice their lives for this country.  We don’t even treat murderers like that.  This really makes me sick.  That beautiful animal deserved to live more than most people I know.

  • SemperFi!

    Hate to say this, but the general that ordered this dogs exacution needs a bullet in the brain. I sincerley hope if anyone gets a chance to FRAG said general, they take it.

  • troopsupporter42

    He saved many lives protecting his fellow Marines with his due diligence and loyalty and that is how he is treated?????  Being put to death????  I am saddened, stunned and quite pissed that this “General” ordered that to be done…what a heart-less, unappreciative idiot…

  • JungleJayne

    I would like to know the name of the General that made that order.  And his logic thereof!

  • Jbusta1994

    Bull****. The damn General had no right to do that.

  • Steve

    I don’t believe that…

  • Timsunbelt

    WTF they put him down ? Willy Pete your a hero for help protecting our dear Marines over there RIP my Doggie Marine Oorah Oorah !!!!!!!!  and someone should look into putting down
    that General 

  • Arlene C Blacet

    The General who ordered it, should do the same as the Dog did, get in front of those soldiers and protect them with his life!!!… Why don’t we put the General “DOWN”!!!…

  • Nakman

    Everything must come to an end one day but that doesn’t mean everything must go today. Im
    Not a marine but even though im12 I know that the generals decision was very wrong
    Thank you Willy Pete

  • Gotnoemail

    general needs his *** handed to him

  • Anonymous

    What dumb*** gave THAT order?  Lol…lets see a follow up article about that!

  • DA 0802

    Stud0311 – can you please confirm that you know first hand that this true that he was put down on orders?  Can anyone else confirm this?  I will launch an all out PR assault in the press if this can be confirmed as true.  

  • disGRUNTaled

    As a Marine Officer, killing that dog especially with a morale article publicizing him is a stupid decision, and the general who ordered it needs a reality check.

  • Stud03112002

    I am sorry to say, Willy Pete has been put down due to the order from one of our Generals. He ordered all local national animals be exterminated once they come onto a US Military base. I will miss Willy. 

  • L.W.

    Great article!!!!

  • L.W.

    Great article!!!!

  • Jim

    Find a way to bring him stateside. He’s earned it.

  • Jim

    Find a way to bring him stateside. He’s earned it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stacey-Nelson/1282471868 Stacey Nelson

    Just like his fellow Marines, it don’t take blue blood & papers to be the world’s finest… it takes a whole helluva lot of guts & determination!  Welcome to our little band of brothers Willy Pete.  For the record, you are better looking & have a better haircut/shave than some of the sorry SOB’s I was proud to serve with.  :-D

    Lord watch out for this “Devil Dog” and “his” Marines.  God bless & Semper Fidelis.. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stacey-Nelson/1282471868 Stacey Nelson

    Just like his fellow Marines, it don’t take blue blood & papers to be the world’s finest… it takes a whole helluva lot of guts & determination!  Welcome to our little band of brothers Willy Pete.  For the record, you are better looking & have a better haircut/shave than some of the sorry SOB’s I was proud to serve with.  :-D

    Lord watch out for this “Devil Dog” and “his” Marines.  God bless & Semper Fidelis..