When a military dog reached old age and was euthanized, his owner and war-time companion sought to give him a proper send off. The Marine and his father donned their uniforms and gave their loyal canine a funeral worthy of a soldier.
Rico, a German Shepherd, has served two tours in Afghanistan as a Marine K-9. The brave dog participated in over 240 missions and 30 firefights. He was the wartime partner of Marine Staff Sgt. Russ Beckley Jr., who received a Purple Heart in 2011.
During their tour of duty, Rico was always by Beckley's side.
"There was not a moment when it wasn't his mission or his goal to be by my side," Beckley told WOODTV. "I was everything to him. And he was everything to me."
In 2012, Rico was retired from service and sent to live with Beckley's family in Saugatuck, Michigan. With Beckley still serving, the two dear friends were separated, according to Shareably.
When the veteran K-9 Marine reached 12 years of age, his health declined and it became clear that he would have to be put down. Beckley returned home to see him off. The two were overjoyed to be reunited, with Beckley embracing the elderly dog.
When Rico was put down, Beckley was by his side.
"I thanked Rico," Beckley recalled. "For everything that he's done for me. And I told him that I loved him."
For the K-9 Marine's funeral, Beckley and his father, Russ Beckley Sr., donned their Marine uniforms and lowered the American flag to half-staff. They carried Rico together, his coffin decorated with the flag.
Rico's body was cremated and his urn was placed in the Beckley home. His comrade hopes that he will be able to reunite with him in death.
"I can just imagine imagine one day, seeing my great grandfather, my grandfather, my father and my mother, standing there with Rico," Beckley said. "Ad we will all be together again."
Military working dogs have been an essential aid to Marines in Afghanistan. Thousands of K-9s were deployed to detect explosives, target enemy combatants and serve as therapy and service companions to U.S. troops, according to The Atlantic.
Rico had come from a veteran family; his father had also served as a K-9 Marine. The loyal German Shepherd's funeral was a fitting honor for a loyal canine who had done his duty.