In 2007, the Navy SEALs started their first canine program. On Saturday, November 9th, a special dog that graduated from that program was honored.
Navy SEAL Trevor Maroshek decided to enlist after the 9/11 attacks. While serving, he was asked to start the Multi-Purpose Canine Program. In the program, dogs are trained in explosive detection, laser target acquisition, bite work, and search and rescue. One of the dogs that he would train, Chopper, came from the Czech Republic and, in the course of his military career, would be responsible for saving the lives of many of his human SEAL brothers.
In 2010, Maroshek and Chopper were stationed in Afghanistan. During patrol, Chopper discovered hidden Taliban forces and was able to take them down just by biting them. This allowed Maroshek and another SEAL to take the group out.
Chopper’s acts of bravery and his connection to his trainer were so outstanding, a movie — SEAL Dog — was made about them in 2015.
After serving three tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and Southeast Asia, it was time for Chopper to retire. Although there was no protocol for service members to adopt their dogs Maroshek took matters into his own hands. After some hard work, which took a year and a half, he helped establish a rule that allows veterans to adopt their service dogs after retirement.
Adopting Chopper was important to Maroshek because the dog had become a part of his family. “Even when my daughter was born, he wouldn’t leave her side. He was a guardian angel the whole time,” he said.
His Legacy Continues
Sadly, Chopper passed away last year at the age of 12.
Maroshek was deeply affected by the loss, saying, “Without crying about it, it’s like losing a child.”
The story has a bit of a happy ending though. At Veterans Park in Imperial Beach, California, Maroshek, accompanied by his other dog, Thor, attended the unveiling of Imperial Beach’s Military Service Dog Memorial Statue, which was dedicated to Chopper. What was so special about Thor attending? He’s Chopper’s son.
Together Maroshek and Thor continue to make sure Chopper’s memory lives on through the SEAL Dog Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit that helps veterans deal with PTSD and other injuries by connecting them with service dogs who need forever homes.
“Fair winds and following seas” Chopper. Well done!
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