…the overarching bellow of white noise slowly abated. There was no other sensation for a few moments that seemed an age. I heard the soft but hurried footpads of your approach. I felt your paw on my chest; heard the anxious soft whine on each intake of your breath. I felt the liquid sensation of your tongue on my cheek. I opened my eyes. I saw your face…I was alive.
I now think that from my first moment in-country I was destined to be with you, boy. I had a desperate need for a companion and a guardian and you had to be him. I finally understood what was meant back at Fort Benning when they spoke of “bonding”.
From our first duty at the PX supply yard, to the Air Force Bomb depot, to sapper sweeps outside the wire, you never failed to keep me safe. You never allowed harm to come between us, always leading, ever protecting. My demise was my own doing and yet you still saved me.
As fierce a guardian as you were, you were still my big old cuddly Prince who loved to frolic and would belly crawl a mile to play with a child. Your tenacity through the terrible, horrible carnage of the battle field saved two little ones, in spite of our best efforts to close our eyes. By saving them, you once again saved me. We lived the mission to its fullest and protected the innocent; not through my intrepid determination, but through yours.
As my spirit faded with the realization of the futility of our efforts understanding that we would, in the end, turn away from these people, you served on and reminded me always of our duty, honor and service. A better soldier I never met. A better friend? Only in my dreams, as we play Frisbee on a free open field surrounded by throngs of laughing children..
43 years and a wake-up ago, I opened my eyes, I saw your face, for the last time…Good boy!
Prince (16X5) , 34th Patrol Dog Platoon, 3rd Bde, 1st Cav, Bien Hoa, RVN 1972