By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense chief canine correspondent
For the 22-year-old Lance Cpl. William "Billy" H. Crouse IV, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, was the site of first tour of duty -- for his bomb-sniffing dog Cane, it was the third. Only a few weeks had passed when, on Dec. 21, 2010 during a routine patrol with their Marine team, the pair encountered a roadside bomb -- both dog and handler were hit.
I couldn't find a lot of detail about that day, the IED blast, or about Cane and Cpl. Crouse's relationship. But after scouring a number of articles and Facebook accounts, in the end the big picture of that day fades into the shadow of one detail. During what must of been a chaotic scene charged with great urgency, while being lifted into the medevac the wounded handler had the emotional wherewithal to insist the soldiers around him to save his dog.
"'Get Cane in the Blackhawk!' Crouse cried out before losing consciousness."
Apparently, those were his last words. Neither Crouse nor Cane survived.
Crouse's body was brought home to Texas that following week, and the funeral was held on Dec. 29. The Facebook page established in Crouse's memorandum has some lovely stories, especially touching are those comments made by Crouse's sister, Jennifer.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.