U.S. Marines found Sandy in the streets of Qal’ah-ye Now, Afghanistan – beaten, malnourished … and pregnant.
But after Sandy, under the Marines’ nursing care, gave birth to a healthy litter, she gave them a gift that would one day save their lives over and over: a little, yellow puppy the Americans named Willy Pete.
Like his mother before him, Willy Pete has served not only as a companion to the Marines of Company D, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, but also as a guardian.
According to BellaDOG Magazine, Willy Pete has learned how to patrol with the Marines, how to advance in formation and how to react when in contact with the enemy. The dog has gone through three complete combat rotations over the past two years, working alongside each light armored unit that has served in the area.
U.S. Marines report with astonishment the veteran dog usually takes lead when they go on patrol, scanning for enemies, whether human or canine. Willy Pete even understands reconnaissance tactics: relocating to a new position once he establishes a clear path for the Marines and moving from one side of the patrol to the other, warning Marines of anyone’s approach with a quick bark or low growl.
“Willy never walks in the other direction or tries to hide when he sees a squad heading out for a patrol,” Lance Cpl. Philip Bulford of Alabaster, Ala., told BellaDOG. “I believe that Willy believes it’s his duty and an honor to protect us from what may lie ahead.”
And protect, he has. The scrappy dog bears scars from the explosion of an improvised explosive device and a gunshot wound from an enemy insurgent. He also bears the marks of tussles with packs of feral dogs that roam the countryside.
“I had my squad on a local security patrol in Kala Shureh – we refer to the town as ‘Dog Town’ because of the large amount of wild dogs in the area,” Sgt. Joshua Davis of Auburn, Maine, told BellaDOG. “All of the dogs were overly aggressive and tried to stop the patrol’s movement by intimidating the Marines. Willy Pete single handily fought off five wild dogs to protect them. After Willy engaged the dogs, my squad was able to push through the village to complete our patrol.”
Willy Pete also serves in the more traditional guard-dog role, touring the patrol base with the sergeant of the guard, chasing away stray dogs and warning if anyone approaches the outpost.
“He is a proven veteran and a wounded warrior,” Staff Sgt. Anthony J. Eichler of Pittsburgh, Pa., told BellaDOG. “Willy is always tirelessly watching over what I would assume he considers ‘his’ Marines. He is a friend of all Marines, and he works hard every day on patrol and for the security of [the outpost]. He’s been knocked down a few times, but continues on with the mission just like any Marine would be expected to do.”