The town of Rockford, Iowa will be honoring a Navy SEAL killed last year in Afghanistan and the loyal dog who touched hearts around the world.
A celebration of Petty Officer First Class Jon Tumilson's life is scheduled for Saturday at Rockford Fossil and Prairie Park and a groundbreaking ceremony will also be held for the bronze statue currently being scultped that will depict Tumlison and his dog, Hawkeye.
Tumilson was one of 30 Americans killed last August when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents.
Tumilson loved his Labrador Retriever, Hawkeye, so much he called the dog his son.
At his funeral ceremony, Hawkeye walked up to the casket at the beginning of the service and then dropped down with a heaving sigh in front of about 1,500 mourners. Loyal to the end, he refused to leave Tumilson’s side during the funeral. The touching moment was captured in a photograph taken by Tumlison's cousin Lisa Pembleton.
Tumlinson's close friend Scott Nichols later adopted Hawkeye, according to Tumlison's wishes. Hawkeye had stayed with Nichols whenever Tumlinson was deployed overseas.
Nearly a year has now passed since that tragic event. The Tumilson family says it has been a year filled with ups and down. It would have been Tumlinson's 36th birthday this past week and his mother says his favorite holiday was the Fourth of July, so they only saw it fitting to celebrate his life this weekend.
"If he knew that we were doing this for him he'd just think it was a bunch of nonsense because that's not why the guys do this. They do it so we can have freedom and we can celebrate our freedoms," Kathy said.
The family hopes the statue will be unveiled on Memorial Day this year.