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article imageMarine reunited with bomb-sniffing pal, Casey (video)

By Anne Sewell     May 22, 2013 in World
Des Moines - Marine Sergeant Ross Gundlach was a dog handler in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. Gundlach promised his bomb-sniffing dog, Casey, that he would find her again, and last Friday, his wish came true and he was able to keep that promise.
He has been reunited with his constant companion in Afghanistan and it was all thanks to State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds.
While he was based in Afghanistan during 2011-2012, Gundlach and Casey carried out 150 missions together. According to Gundlach, Casey never missed a single bomb and he credits the dog with the fact that he had been able to make it home safely. He even has a tattoo on his right forearm, showing Casey with angel wings and a halo, sitting a the foot of a Marine.
This summer, 25-year-old Gundlach from Madison, WI, left active duty to take classes at the University of Wisconsin. However, he never forgot about Casey and began working on attempts to adopt the four-year-old dog.
It turned out that Casey had also completed her military service and was working at the Iowa State Fire Marshal's office, detecting explosives.
When State Fire Marshal Director Ray Reynolds received a letter from Gundlach explaining his special connection with Casey and his wish to adopt her, Reynolds was so touched that he decided to arrange a surprise reunion.
According to the Associated Press, here is what Reynolds actually did.
First of all, he contacted the Iowa Elk’s Association, which agreed to donate $8,500 to buy another dog for the agency, allowing Casey to have her freedom.
Iowa Elks Association president Tom Maher said, “We have a motto in our association that as long as there are veterans, the Elks will strive to help them," and help him they did.
Next Reynolds had to come up with a plan to get Gundlach to visit Des Moines. He decided to tell the Marine that he needed to visit the State Capitol to plead his case for adoption in front of a “bureaucratic oversight committee.” He couldn't promise anything but said he would try his best.
So Gundlach traveled to Des Moines with his parents, and was told by Reynolds that the meeting had been delayed. Reynolds invited them to join an Armed Services Day celebration in the rotunda.
In the rotunda, there were hundreds of law enforcement officers, along with military personnel and civilians, all of them keeping the secret ... until they brought out Casey.
Gundlach's comments to the media were, “It was a total surprise.” “I owe her. I want to take care of her, but I owe her. I’ll just try to give her the best life I can.”
Casey was officially retired from active duty during the ceremony on Friday by Governor Terry Brandstad, who thanked the dog for a “job well done,” and the undeniable bond that links Gundlach and his bomb-sniffing friend, Casey will now continue.
More about Afghanistan, marine sergeant, Casey, yellow labrador, bomb sniffing dog
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