The United States Marine Corps is one of the proudest and most military branches on the planet. These courageous men and women bear a very tough reputation. After showing their tenaciousness during the infamous battle at Belleau Wood Teufel Hunden in France, where outnumbered marines took control of a hill occupied by German troops, even the Nazis in World War II called them “Devil Dogs.” Even the new generations of marines have lived up to that name over the years. Their motto Semper Fidelis means “always faithful.” There are also few marines more faithful than our brave C=canine soldiers. His fellow marines saw fit to honor his service in a beautiful way which is why when it was time to bury a retired military dog.
A German Shepard named Rico served as one of the elite canines in the corps. Marine Staff Sergeant Russ Beckley Jr., who is a fourth-generation, is the handler of Marine Rico. Rico went into training camp at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas when he was four-years-old unlike so many puppies born and bred for service in the marines. He first met Beckley who was a recent graduate from military police school there. Beckley and Rico served together with two full tours in the theater of Afghanistan and would survive 240 missions as well as 30 firefights.
Rico was not just in Afganistan doing what he was trained to do on the battlefield said Beckley to the Marine Corps Times. He also shared how Rico would go around boosting the morale of other marines who had the privilege to serve with him.
Rico was flown to Texas to be retrained with a different handler as Beckley’s career path went in a different direction in 2012. The corps decided to retire him after four honorable years of exemplary service to his country as the soldier dog was not able to adapt. Rico would soon be put up for adoption.
Beckley rushed to ensure his name was on the list to adopt Rico once he learned his old comrade was up for adoption. Rico was able to reunite with Beckley since handlers were usually the first choice. Beckley’s household was not an ideal environment for Rico as Beckley had a bad combination of frequent deployments, a small living space, and small kids. So, Rico found a new home with Beckley’s father, a Marine Corps veteran named Russell Beckley Sr. who lives in Saugatuck, Michigan.
Beckley’s folks gave lots of love, carry, and loyalty to Rico. Rico was very loyal to both his nation and handler. Rico was considered a fifth-generation Beckley marine when he was adopted into the family.
The family knew that Rico’s time to deploy to heaven coming as its health began to fail by the age of 12. Rico was euthanized and then cremated. Russell Beckley sr. and Staff Sgt. Russell Beckley Jr., both carried the proud canine soldier’s coffin dressed in Full-military uniforms as a simple backyard burial was out of the question.
The American flag was draped in Rico’s coffin, and the dog was honored by fellow Marines in the Muskegon, Michigan chapter of the Marine Corps League, who make Rico an honorary member. The soldier would receive a 21 gun salute and members of the league were on-hand to play Taps at Rico’s funeral.
God bless you, Rico. A grateful nation thanks you for your service.
Here’s a heartwarming video.