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Monday, May 27, 2019

Good Morning Sparkers,

To all the U.S. Sparkers, here's to your having a great Memorial Day, hopefully with family and friends...for all the others around the world, have an awesome day that exceeds your expectations.

As you can see I'm not a 'regualr blog poster''s been a few months' but time has become something I can't waste so I have to cut back where I can...

With the Memorial Day holiday here in the U.S. so many see it as the official start to summer, but for others the meaning is deeper. They've lost loved ones, friends or family; they don't forget...

For me, I was a Scout Dog handler in Vietnam from 1969 - 70. My dog's name was "Crazy Duke" and he turned out to be truly the 'best friend' i've ever had. He had been in 'Nam since 1966 when he arrived with the 1st Scout Dog Platoon to arrive. He'd had 3 previous handlers before me, all who went home safely. When we first met I'd found we had to decide who was going to be "The Boss"...after a few minutes he knew it would be me and so we moved on from there. His treat for that, some ice cream...I know, not the best thing for a dog but he loved it and we became 'family' at that moment. Then, Mom sent me some dog treats for him and we were bonded. We had more days in the field than any other dog / handler team in the unit's history there; not pride or shame, just what we achieved. Duke was awarded 2 Unit citations for discoveries he made during our time together, that included saviing American lives twice, mine included. Many ask why he was called 'Crazy' ...well, he had been in Guard Dog school and they said he wasn't 'vicious' enough for that, so he was trained as a Scout; to seek out any enemy, booby traps, caches of anything, just overall, protection...yet when we were back in base camp NO ONE could get near him but me. He'd go "Crazy", and he always wanted to charge into gunfire...truly one who went INTO danger, if I'd let him. He'd have to be knocked out when he got his teeth cleaned every 2-3 months, as an idea how he'd act...yet out in the field, anyone could pet him; the troops so enjoyed having a 'reminder of home' there with them. They all had a dog 'just like him' only smaller, bigger, furrier...made me happy to see them think good thoughts for a few moments.

The sad part of my memories was the day I left him to come home. I'd tried to get him released to civilian duties working with a police force, but was told that because all the dogs had contracted an 'internal bleeding disease' that would strike, they'd swell up on one of their legs or internally, none of the dogs would return stateside. We monitored there blood monthly, and I learned how to draw his blood so he wouldn't have to be knocked out for the test. He'd give me his paw, knowing what was coming, let me do the job, then it was all good...lots of treats for that...I cried the hardest twice; once when I left the unit and watched him from the jeep as I left...the second time, at home, at the airport, my entire family and lots of friends met me and when I went to get my duffle bag, I knew he wasn't there with me and I sat down and I'm doing now...

I know many will think "it's only a dog..." No, he saved a lot of lives during his time there, he spent too much time there...Possibly one of your dads, or brothers or friends was one of those he'd saved. For me, all I can say is "Thanks Duke, you'll always be my best friend..."

To all those who serve...Thank You, may God bless you always; for those who have lost loved ones, know how grateful I am for their, and your sacrifice...small words for such an unselfish act...

This is the first, and probably, the last time I'll tell this...just wanted to 'thank you Duke' for what you gave to me, and hopefully, forgiving me for not bringing you home...I pray you'll be there at the 'Rainbow Bridge' when the time comes for me...

Stay well Sparkers,
Carpe Diem...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Oh Dwayne; I wanted to thank you for your support and the goodies and in passing, read this blog of yours and I'm now crying with you. I'm a Canadian but none the less appreciate your service. Take good care Spark Friend Hugs

    593 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story about Duke.
    604 days ago
  • BRENDAF761
    What a beautiful friendship you and Duke had. I thank you both for your service. Thanks for sharing this on Memorial Day!
    605 days ago
    I was filled with emotion as I read your story of your time in Vietnam with Crazy Duke. A wonderful bond and amazing service by both of you. Heart breaking you had to leave him there. Thank you for sharing your story.
    605 days ago
  • FRAN0426
    Thank you and Crazy Duke for your service.
    605 days ago
    Your story moved me to tears, Carpe Diem. I'm one of those who would never, ever think "it's only a dog," as I believe dogs truly are God's best gift to humans. You were so blessed to have known Duke, and I have absolutely no doubt that he will greet you with boundless joy at the Rainbow Bridge.

    Thank you and Duke for your generous sacrifices and service to our nation. Thank you so much.

    605 days ago
    What a wonderful tribute to a brave canine hero (as well as to his handler). There are many animals I hope I meet at the Rainbow Bridge and I wouldn't mind adding Crazy Duke to that list. God bless!

    605 days ago
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