The bond between this Marine and his K-9 Battle Buddy in Afghanistan was unbreakable and "Eli" ran to PFC Rusk when he was struck down. Now, Eli has a new mission - to comfort PFC Rusk's parents.
I am sure he will be as dedicated to this mission as he was to his partner on the Battlefield.
Good Dog, Eli. Semper Fi.
Fallen Marine's Parents Adopt Son's Bomb Dog
Published : Thursday, 03 Feb 2011, 7:06 AM EST
SAN ANTONIO - The parents of a U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan are adopting the bomb-sniffing dog who the military says loyally rushed to their son's side when he was fatally shot.
Darrell and Kathy Rusk were expected to take home Eli on Thursday. The black Labrador is being retired from military service following the death of Pfc. Colton Rusk. The military says the 20-year-old Texan died in December during a gun battle with Taliban fighters.
Rusk was the handler for Eli, who is trained to sniff out explosives. After their son was killed in combat, the Rusks asked the military if they could adopt the dog.
The transfer will take place at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. The base is training headquarters for all dogs used by the U.S. military
The Connecticut Police Work Dog Association
Pfc. Colton W. Rusk, 20, of Orange Grove, Texas, died Dec. 6 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
He was fatally shot while searching with his K9 Eli, a black Labrador retriever, along with six other Marines in the attack. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on November 2, 2009 and was serving his first combat deployment where he was serving as a K-9 handler. He was chosen to be sent to South Carolina to American K-9 Interdiction to train for Improvised Explosive Device Detector dog handler. Certified on 6-18-10. It was here that he and Eli became a team.
He along with Eli left for Afghanistan on his 20th birthday 9-23-10. His awards include, the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Pfc. Colton Rusk was buried on 12/18/10 at Orange Grove Cemetery in Texas where approximately one thousand mourners paid their respects. In lieu of flowers the family has requested donation be made to the Colton Rusk Memorial, C/O Value Bank Texas, P.O. Box 4956, Corpus Christi, Texas 78469.