The Heart of a Marine:
(From the book Sergeant Rex by Mike Dowling, pgs 42, 88, 89.)
Corporal Dowling’s kennel master wanted Dowling and his bomb-sniffing dog, Rex, to go to Iraq. However, Corporal Dowling’s father was dying of cancer and would not live much longer, so the kennel master gave Dowling the option not to go so he could be there for his dad’s funeral. The following dialogue took place:
“Staff Sergeant, I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to stay here, but I signed up for the Corps to do a job and my dad will want me to do it. Plus what good am I staying here waiting for him to die when I can be overseas saving lives? Why would I want to wait for the life I cherish most to pass away, when I can go and save a life? And if I decide not to go and another team goes in my place and gets hurt or even killed, there is no way I will be able to live with myself after that.”
My kennel master eyed me for a long second. “There’s a good chance you won’t be flown home for your dad’s funeral.”
"I think he’d find it okay, as long as he knew I was taking care of marines and saving lives out there."
"You’re going then?"
"Send me. I’m honored to go. And thank you.”
Before deploying, Dowling had to say farewell to his father who was in and out of the hospital, but he still got to “spend a few good days with him.”
“I got called to deploy,” I told him, “and I feel like Rex and I can do real good out there.”
He asked if I felt ready. I told him that I did. He was happy with that. He was absolutely supportive of my going to Iraq because it was what I wanted to do. “God bless” were his last words to me.
He never expressed an opinion on the Iraq War. I presumed he thought that war was not the answer, but no matter what, he would always be supportive of me. My father was my rock, and that was one thing I had always been able to rely upon.
Dowling’s mom threw him a farewell BBQ where his family and friends were there. Some of his old school friends told him that they did not support the war. Another great response came of this:
They asked me if I really believed in what I was fighting for.
"The way I see it, I’m not thinking about the rights and wrongs of this conflict," I told them. "I consider my fellow marines like my family, like brothers in arms, and what would you do if you had family in harm’s way, and you had a critical skill set to help bring them back home to their families? Wouldn’t you want to go out there and save lives?"
People got that. Whatever their political views, it made sense to them.
Dowling’s responses are great examples of the true dedication these men have to our country and their brothers in arms and why I love our military so much. I am so thankful for them and their military working dogs.