The Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Battle of Fallujah veteran, Hexa, retires

By Rebecca Frankel 

Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

At eleven years old and after a long career of detecting explosives and no fewer than two deployments behind her, Hexa is hanging up her working leash. She is leaving her home station kennel at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, AZ (not to be confused with the Yuma Proving Ground) for life as a housedog with former MP Staff Sgt. Neal Moody.

It seems that Hexa is suffering from a neurological disease that will ultimately leave her blind; Even now you can see that her eyes are coated with the telltale milky glaze. The article also reports that Hexa is suffering from Canine PTSD, though it doesn't hint at a specific trauma or how deeply affected her day-to-day life is by either affliction. Still while life as a working dog wears on any animal (as do multiple deployments), Hexa's handlers report that her keen sense of smell is very much intact and the article makes special mention that she still goes wild for tennis balls.

Back in her heyday Hexa, a large Shiloh Shepherd, was a force to be reckoned with. In 2010 she helped lead a demonstration aimed to prepare the Combat Logistics Regiment 15 for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan -- the special lesson being how MWDs could be used in a hostile combat zone. They are not only there to help find bombs or drugs but can be used to chase down and detain a suspect. The "suspect" Hexa detained in this tutorial was Sgt. Jay Parales who described the experience (seen in the photo above) as "pretty intense" and "scary but fun."

"That dog," Parales said then speaking of Hexa, "Took me down like I was a little toy."

War-Dog Aside: In last week's post I wrote that Marine canine handler Sgt. William Sutra was going to be awarded the Navy Cross for the heroics he (and his dog Posha) displayed in Afghanistan. You can watch Sutra receive the Navy Cross here. The comments offered during this ceremony give a far better account of what happened on that fateful day than any report I've read elsewhere. (Hat tip: Mike Dowling.)

Rebecca Frankel, on leave from her FP desk, is currently writing a book about military working dogs, to be published by Atria Books in September 2013.

Photos by Cpl. Aaron Diamant

The Best Defense

What a good senior NCO does: Move around, keep an ear open, turn over rocks

One of the things a good senior leader does is move around his or her unit. Don't wait for bad news to come to you. Often, it won't be allowed to.

The new issue of Army Times has a good piece by Michelle Tan about a predatory drill sergeant who in one 10 day period earlier this year had various forms of sex with one female recruit, oral sex with another, a groping and kissing session with a third, and indecent language with some others.

The first woman to complain was a 20-year-old victim who found the chain of command unresponsive. She went to one drill sergeant, who told her, "You don't want to open that can of worms, Private. . . . That's my battle buddy's career you're trying to fuck up." Her first sergeant didn't believe her. The company commander said he would launch an inquiry, which, she said, led nowhere, and wasn't reported to superiors. The woman said that other trainees who had been assaulted were afraid to come forward, especially after they saw how the drill sergeants ganged up on her and accused her of lacking integrity.

Then she ran into the battalion command sergeant major as he was moving around the unit. He listened to her, then called a meeting of all the females in the company. It lasted about 90 minutes. "That's when the others came forward," the woman said.

The abusive drill sergeant, Luis Corral, has been found guilty. He was busted to private, sentenced to five years in the brig, and will get a bad conduct discharge when he gets out. Then he must register as a sex offender.