Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lucca - Meet One of America's Furry War Heroes

From Yahoo! News

What has three legs, a Purple Heart, and fur all over?

Meet German Shepard mix Lucca, a Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient (albeit unofficial) credited as a war hero for her work sniffing out IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lucca, who lost a front paw while serving on the front lines, is the subject of new book “Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca.” And along with her first handler and current owner, Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham, this furry war hero recently sat down for an interview with “Power Players.”

Willingham is part of a special unit of dog handlers within the Marine Corps and was first assigned to be Lucca’s handler when she was still a young, untrained dog. The two quickly became a pair and trained together for a year before being deployed to Iraq, where Lucca quickly put her sniffing skills into action.

“In our first week in our first big mission … Lucca went up and indicated there was an explosive there and that was the first time she saved my life,” Willingham said. “It was a really validating moment from all the hard work and training we put in together, to the moment she actually found an IED on an operation, so it was a great, great day."

While active in the Marine Corps, Lucca was identified as a piece of equipment would be, with the ID designation K458. But to the troops she protected, she was known as “Mama Lucca.”

“She is a Marine,” Willingham said. “She's treated just like a Marine. When she got injured, she was medevac’d just like a Marine. They get top notch veterinary treatment -- their medical care, their health care, their dental care -- it's top notch. We treat these dogs outstanding, their part of our team, and Lucca probably knows more about me than anybody else, except my wife."

Click here to watch the video interview or read the full article.