When Lance Cpl. Jeremy Vanhoose served over in Afghanistan with his German Shepherd Imi, the pair detected bombs. Vanhoose joined the Marines shortly after high school, leaving behind his childhood sweetheart and fiance Kacy and his family. He trained and worked with canines used for detecting IED bombs while on patrol.
Ultimately, Jeremy was paired with Military War Dog (MWD) Imi, and the pair was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2011.
"The first week of patrolling I was fearful. It was supposed to be the deadliest summer in Afghanistan. Then I got into a routine and every couple of days we would find something," said Jeremy.
In almost three months of service the team is said to have had approximately two-dozen finds.
His life took a dramatic turn on Aug. 24, 2011, when he was out on patrol with Imi and other Marines in Sangin district of Afghanistan. "I was on patrol with probably 18 guys. I am the only guy with my unit with a dog. We were deployed with 30 teams," recounted Jeremy.
It was the afternoon and they were almost back at the patrol base, when Imi suddenly detected something on the motorcycle trail on the right of the main road. Said Jeremy, "I noticed Imi picked up something by the canal. I pulled everybody on the side and decided to pull her back."
What he hadn't realized at the time, was that Imi had detected not one, but three incendiary devices and he had accidentally stepped on one, "she was onto something and I just took one more step."
The explosion knocked him unconscious and he lost his left leg, below the knee. Before he left base, he was promised he would be able to adopt Imi. Hearing that, Jeremy was comforted.
"We had been through so much together," said Jeremy. "She had saved my life 19 times before I was hit. She has seen everything I've seen over there. She means a lot to me."
Jeremy was flown back to San Diego to recover. He got a prosthetic in November and did not have much trouble adjusting to it, but needed a lot of physical therapy to build his muscle back up. He received the Purple Heart for his bravery.
As he recovered, he just knew he wanted his dog back, so he initiated the adoption process for Imi. The process turned out to be a little bit more complicated, in part due to the high demand and continuing need for military dogs to stay on active duty, and the extensive evaluation the dogs need to undergo to see if they are fit to enter civilian life.
But in the end, with the help of his family, Marine and dog were reunited in January.
Vanhoose formally adopted Imi this spring, four months after being reunited with her. It was a welcome homecoming, and one that is helping them both heal from the traumas of war. Jeremy's mother said Imi is "the missing piece to Jeremy's puzzle of recovery."
When Imi came home with Jeremy he said, "She didn't act like a trained dog. She was acting like a puppy."
via Daily News Journal
Photos source: Support Wounded Warrior LCpl Vanhoose reunite with MWD Imi Facebook page