A Marine family in Michigan said goodbye to its beloved K-9 with a fitting funeral.
Rico was a Marine K-9 who served two tours in Afghanistan and was part of more than 240 missions and 30 firefights. He lived just over 12 years by the side of his owner, Marine Staff Sgt. Russ Beckley, Jr.
“There was not a moment when it wasn’t his mission or his goal to be by my side. I was everything to him. And he was everything to me,” Beckley told WOOD.
After spending more than a year apart, Beckley and Rico were reunited in mid-June at the sergeant’s parents’ home. The dog was in declining health due to age, and the family had made the decision to have him put down.
“Mainly I was thinking about how loyal he was to our family. To my son. To myself. And to our country,” Russ Beckley, Sr. said of his last moment with the dog. “He just kinda melted into my arms and we had a very nice goodbye.”
Beckley said he “thanked Rico” for everything he’d done for him.
“And I told him that I loved him,” he added. The dog then got a proper military send-off, with Beckley lowering his American flag to half-staff and visitors coming to pay their respects at a memorial set up by the family. Beckley and his father -- dressed in their uniforms -- carried their beloved dog in a flag-draped coffin.
Beckley said that while it’s hard saying goodbye his beloved dog, he knows it isn’t the last time they’ll be together.
“I can just imagine one day, seeing my great grandfather, my grandfather, my father and my mother, standing there with Rico. And we will all be together again,” he said.