There is a special bond between men and women that go through combat. Facing the deadly situations that soldiers face everyday together creates close relationships that stick with them forever.
While serving in Afghanistan, one Sergeant made a somewhat unique kind of friendship—not with his fellow soldiers, but with three stray dogs who saved his life and the lives of around 50 other soldiers in his barracks.
Their sacrifice and friendship, forged in the battlefields of Afghanistan, compelled Sergeant Chris Duke to give them a new lease on their lives.
In the early 2000s, Sergeant Duke adopted three stray dogs while he was deployed overseas in Afghanistan.
The dogs, named Sasha, Target and Rufus, formed an instant bond with the soldiers of the camp.
“A lot of us used the three of them as a kind of escape,” Duke told CBS News. “Ya know, whenever you were homesick.”
But the dogs not only provided emotional support to the soldiers. The dogs also came to love and protect the soldiers, as well, and they would even save the lives of their new family.
“My firm belief is that I would probably not be here today if it weren’t for him,” Duke told CBS News.
One night in February, as Sergeant Duke and the rest of his unit was asleep, a suicide bomber attempted to enter Duke’s barracks to set off an IED. The barracks housed around 50 sleeping soldiers who no doubt would have been killed in the attack.
However, the bomber’s plan was foiled. Sasha, Target and Rufus detected the suicide bomber and immediately went on the attack. They bit and barked at the bomber before he was able to enter the barracks. Startled, the suicide bomber prematurely detonated his bomb.
In the aftermath of the blast, no soldiers were harmed. Unfortunately, Sasha was severely injured in the attack and had to be put down; Rufus and Target, however, managed to survive and were nursed back to health.
Sergeant Duke was understandably touched by the dogs’ sacrifice, and he resolved to take care of the remaining dogs for the rest of their days.
Duke was scheduled to return to the United States a month later. Although he wanted to bring the dogs back with him, the overwhelming cost prohibited it.
Still, he never forgot the dogs that saved him, and he decided to try one last option to bring them to the United States. He wrote a letter to a veteran’s assistance group, Hope for the Warriors, and pleaded with them to help him bring the dogs to America. They understood how much this would mean to the brave veteran.
Hope for the Warriors raised $21,000 to bring the dogs to their new home.
In cooperation with other veteran’s associations, they raised around $21,000 in less than three months and successfully brought the dogs from Afghanistan to America.
After several months of waiting, the dogs and Sergeant Duke were reunited in Atlanta, in 2010.
“I was pretty much in disbelief up until the moment I saw them,” Duke told CBS News.
Target was sent to live with another soldier from Duke’s unit in Arizona, but Rufus is going to spend the rest of his days with Sergeant Duke and his family.
“Thinking I’m going to have him for the rest of his life, and man, it’s exciting,” Duke told CBS News.
Rufus, Target and Sasha helped to save Sergeant Duke’s life, and the bond they made in the thick of combat compelled Sergeant Duke to give the two surviving dogs a new lease on theirs.
War affects all soldiers in different ways, but despite the horrors Sergeant Duke and Rufus must have witnessed during their tours of duty, their story was able to have a happy ending.