Local Marine Reuniting Military Dog To Original Handler

By: Alex Lotz Email
By: Alex Lotz Email

The saying is 'a dog is a man's best friend.' That saying is true for many Marines working with Improvised Explosive Device dogs overseas. Sadly, the life saving dogs become separated from their handlers when they return to U.S. soil.

One College Station man has made the selfless decision to return his dog, Kemo, to the original Marine handler. It's hard to see, but Kemo has seen the hardships of war. He's used to hunting enemy improvised explosive devices instead of tennis balls.

His current owner, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Daryl Johnston has seen enemy fire as well after being deployed to Afghanistan in June of 2011. Last December, Sgt. Johnston adopted Kemo, who reminded the Marine of his old dog while he served. At the University Park Dog Park in College Station, Sgt. Johnston throws a ball to Kemo for the last time.

After seeing a Facebook page, Sgt. Johnston discovered Kemo's original handler and made the selfless decision to give the bomb-detecting dog back."I got in touch with him and just knew it was the right thing to give Kemo back and reunite them," Sgt. Johnston said.

But he said it's not going to be easy. "It's kind of like losing your kid," said Sgt. Johnston. "You definitely grow attached to those dogs."

Kemo's original hander is also a Marine veteran. Tim Heiser and his girlfriend live in Pennsylvania, and cannot wait for the reunion with Kemo in Virginia Beach.

"That's a really big thing for him to do that," Heiser said. "It took a lot because I know they have formed a bond for the last six months he has had him. It definitely means the world to me that he is kind enough and generous enough to do that."

Now they are on the hunt to reunite the country's four and two legged heroes, starting with Sgt. Johnston. Heiser was able to find Johnston's old dog, Chewie. It turns out Chewie is still putting his bomb-detecting nose to use working with the K-9 Unit at the Virginia Beach Police Department.

"You just want to know where the dog is, even if he is fine."

And more good news for Sgt. Johnston. He will soon be the proud owner of a chocolate lab puppy, which is coming from the same family line as Chewie.

The reunion is expected to take place Sunday in Virginia.


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