A military working dog and his handler from Fort Hood’s 89th Military Police Brigade were recently injured by a bomb in Afghanistan, and a photo of the dog wearing a Purple Heart Medal in a hospital in Germany has gone viral.
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, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Garrett, the public affairs officer for the brigade.
“They were working with Special Operations Forces in an effort to identify explosive materials,” Garrett said in an email to the Herald.
The soldier and dog survived the blast and were taken to a military hospital in Germany. It’s there a photo was taken of Rocky wearing the Purple Heart.
The photo, posted Wednesday on the brigade’s Facebook page, had more than 52,000 likes, 64,000 shares and more than 6,000 comments as of Friday evening.
Brown has since been taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for treatment. The dog “is still being treated in Germany for a few more days,” Garrett 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.
“The Army typically does not process awards for our working dogs the same way we do for our other soldiers,” Garrett said via email. “The Purple Heart in the photo was placed on Rocky as a sign of respect and solidarity between him and Brown during their recovery.”
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.
Garrett said after both dog and soldier are healed, the brigade plans to reunite the two at Fort Hood.