The men and women who serving on the front lines deserve more respect than we could ever give them. While we need to give respect for them, we also need to remember that there are countless other people and animals that are helping our soldiers. Communication teams, medics, and bomb dogs are just a few of the many factions of our military.

When we think of the military, we rarely think of dogs. Most people know dogs help but they never consider them part of the military. The truth is they are. They are every bit a soldier as the men and women fighting alongside them. However, they will do anything for their handler and team.

Rico was one of these amazing dogs. His strength and resilience kept his team safe through many operations. The dog served two full tours in Afghanistan and stayed alive through more than 30 firefights. Through all his dangerous missions, Rico not only kept himself safe but his Marine Staff Sgt. Russ Beckley Jr. safe as well.

The two were eventually brought home and after a year apart were reconnected. Due to old age and a stressful life, Rico was beginning to show signs of breakdown. He had been living 12 years full of love and friendship, but he couldn’t dodge the years like he dodged bullets. Staff Sgt. Beckley and his family decided the best thing for Rico would be to put him down.

In one of the most beautiful services, Beckley and his father (Also a Marine) dressed in their Marine blues and set out for an amazing ceremony. Several people from town came out to see the homemade memorial and funeral procession. You can see Beckley holding back tears as the realization of his best friend being gone sunk in.

With an American flag over his coffin, the father-son duo respectfully glided to the place where the dog would be laid to rest. Although Rico has passed on, Staff Sgt. Beckley is sure he will see him again!

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