By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
On January 12, a bronze plaque was
unveiled in front of the kennels at Fort Belvoir bearing the facility's new
name: "Sgt. Zainah "Caye" Creamer Military Working Dog Kennels."
It was a year ago to the day that Sgt. Creamer succumbed
to wounds she sustained in Afghanistan after her unit was attacked by an
insurgent's IED. She was the first "female working dog handler to be killed in
action during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars."
Sgt. Creamer and her detection dog Jofa had deployed to
Afghanistan in October 2010. Their job was to search for weapons, working ahead
of their unit to sweep for explosives. Jofa, who was across the road from his handler
when the explosion occurred and survived the attack unscathed.
The Belvoir Eagle
covered the memorial service held in at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and reports
that during the ceremony her fellow handlers remembered Sgt. Creamer with
fondness and respect as a "leader" who had the "ability to light up a room no
matter what the situation."
It was a spirited disposition that, at 28 years of age, she seems
to have maintained with ease. Her headquarters battalion commander, Lt. Col.
Dwayne Bowyer, remembers
that Sgt. Creamer was:
and happy the day she departed with her unit. ‘Silently, we all knew that we
were sending them into harm's way but we never imagined that Sgt. Creamer would
make the ultimate sacrifice doing what she loved.'"
Reportedly after Sgt. Creamer's death, Jofa's loss was
visible. But, a year later he is still working and, according to Lt. Col.
Bowyer, the dog is doing "great" with his new handler.
In other war-dog news:
The United States Postal Service has finally issued a set of working-dog
stamps. Among the four canines featured are a guide dog, a therapy dog, and a
search and rescue dog, and what
reports are calling a "tracker dog." The yellow lab featured on the bottom left
of the four-square sheet is clearly a MWD. I would hazard a guess and say a
bomb detection dog, made obvious by the fatigue-clad handler's leg visible
against the desert-y background. I'll save the nitpicking and compliment the
original paintings, which are the work of John M. Thomas and they're lovely. It's
enough to make you want to put pen to paper for some good old-fashioned letter