During a Monday interview on post, the brigade commander of a Fort Hood soldier and his military working dog who were injured in a bomb blast in Afghanistan talked about the incident and the outpouring of support the soldier and his family have had since.
Spc. Andrew Brown, 22, and his military dog, Rocky, were searching a structure for explosive materials in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on Dec. 3 when the bomb exploded, officials said.
“They were on a specific mission looking for explosive devices; that was at the point where they were injured due to an IED,” said Col. Ross Guieb, the commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade. “I think Rocky might be back in the next week or so unless something else comes up. We are not sure if he will come back here to rehab or go elsewhere. For now, I think Brown and his family are going to stay at Walter Reed and continue to heal. His wife’s family is from the East Coast, so it will be a better situation for him to have that family on the East Coast.”
Both soldier and dog are expected to both make a full recovery, Guieb said.
A photo of the injured dog wearing a Purple Heart Medal in a hospital in Germany went viral last week.
The photo, posted Dec. 9 on the brigade’s Facebook page, had more than 133,000 likes, 186,000 shares and nearly 15,000 comments as of Tuesday morning.
“I think they (Brown’s family) are overwhelmed with support in talking with them,” Guieb said.
Brown has since been taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for treatment and rehabilitation. The dog is still in Germany. As soon as he is stable, he will return to the United States to continue his rehabilitation, Guieb said.
Brown, originally from Eliot, Maine, is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries. He will also undergo a series of tests for traumatic brain injury, which is routine for soldiers injured by roadside bombs. He joined the Army two years ago.
The bomb also caused shrapnel wounds and a broken leg for Rocky.
“I know there was a lot of concern on basically trying to put a stabilizing piece into the back hind leg, but it seems right now it will be a full recovery,” Guieb said.
Brown will receive a Purple Heart for the injury. He and Rocky were deployed from Fort Hood on Oct. 26, and were attached to the unit in Afghanistan.
Guieb said the bond between a dog and his handler is a special one.
“The bond between a military working dog and their handler is probably one of the strongest bonds,” he said. “They are like any other partner — sometimes they don’t see eye to eye — but at the end of the day, I think that the bond is very strong.”
The brigade showcased some of its soldiers and their dogs training at Fort Hood on Monday.
Sgt. Darrell Mosley and his dog, Algo, a 2-year-old German shepherd, practiced during a routine training session.
“You get to the point when training these dogs where sometimes you spend more time with them than you do your family,” Mosley said. “They end up becoming family. … I trust him with my life.”
After both Brown and Rocky are healed, the brigade plans to reunite the two at Fort Hood.
“We’re excited to have them back and all of the support no only to those two soldiers but to all the soldiers deployed in the brigade and also in III Corps,” Guieb said.
Deployments for dog teams
Soldiers and the dogs in the brigade deploy as teams, and are usually attached to other units.
Currently, the brigade has about 170 soldiers deployed to the Middle East and elsewhere. About 40 soldiers just returned from a deployment to Niger, Africa.
Brown and Rocky were attached to a Special Operations unit.
The brigade is made up of five battalions at five different locations in the continental United States. It’s main purpose is to support maneuver units.
Those deployed soldier and dog teams are part of a “very highly specialized technical mission,” Guieb said. “They really can cover down larger spaces that, if you didn’t have them, you would need more people with different technology. They can cover a large area and find those explosives.”