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Date Posted: Sat, May 28 2011, 16:38:06
Author: James Stastny, Chaplain
Author Host/IP: cpe-24-24-239-102.socal.res.rr.com / 24.24.239.102
Subject: Visit Walter Reed, WIA - I met a true American Warrior

Earlier this week I got news that two USAF Security Force members, serving in Afghanistan, were injured. On May 8th, while on patrol, MWD [K-9] handler SSgt Ben Seekell stepped on a land mine -- it blew off his left foot, injured his K9 partner Charlie, and SSgt Russell Logan.

The two airmen were sent to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, just a few miles from here [where I live]. Charlie [the K-9 dog] not only received shrapnel wounds but the explosion blew out his eardrums. He’s still overseas awaiting transportation back to the states. Once Charlie undergoes de-programming, the Seekell family will adopt him.

As a result of this news, Linda and I decided to pay them a visit and present them with letters of appreciation from The Vietnam Security Police Association [VSPA.com] and the Old Dawgs and Pups [War-Stories.com] program.

We first went to visit SSgt Logan in the hospital. Unfortunately, when we got to his room the nurse told us he had checked out for the weekend. So, I’ll return sometime next week to see him.

We went to SSgt Seekell’s apartment where his wife and children are able to stay with him. The attendant on duty told us they were at a picnic just around the corner. So, we traipsed over to the picnic. When I spotted a one-footed, young man in a wheelchair I asked if he knew SSgt Seekell. He said, “It’s me.” Recognizing the patches on my vest he said, “It’s K9.” We agreed there’s a bond between K9 that transcends age, once a K9 handler always a K9 handler.

We then sat around and had a great chat with the SSgt and his wife Meagan for at least forty-five minutes. We also got to see their three beautiful children Kayla, Matthew, and Caiden. When Linda asked the SSgt why Charlie didn’t alert on the explosives in the SSgt told us that: 1) he had not given Charlie the command to “seek”, which would have put him primed him to look for explosives, and 2) Charlie did not have the specific training to look for mines. Because they’re buried more deeply than IED’s and such, it takes a different training.

I cannot begin to tell you how much SSgt Seekell impressed me. Here’s a young man, with his foot blown off, sitting in a wheelchair, and he has the most upbeat, positive attitude one could imagine. Instead of bemoaning his loss, or complaining about a missing appendage, he kept talking about getting his prosthesis and going back to duty. In fact, as we visited, the band played the Star Spangled Banner. Being the true American he is, the SSgt didn’t remain seated, which would have been proper, but, on his one leg ... stood at attention to honor this great country.

To think that we have such men carrying on the tradition of the USAF Security Forces, and especially K9 -- with a tear in my eye I must say -- he makes me proud.

What a grand way to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend.

Jim Stastny, VSPA Kennel Master
'Where others fear to go K9 walks alone'
Korat RTAFB '70-'71
388th SPS K9 /Boots 645m

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