Friday, July 06, 2007

Army Cpl. Kory D. Wiens & Cooper

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Kory D. Wiens, 20, of Independence, Ore.

Cpl. Wiens was assigned to the 94th Mine Dog Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; died July 6, 2007 in Muhammad Sath, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Pfc. Bruce C. Salazar Jr.

And that is the official DoD notice of Kory's AND Cooper's deaths in Iraq. Whilst we all understand the need for officialspeak in such matters, many of us are saddened that Cooper has not been officially recognised. Here on the home team, and all Kory and Cooper's friends and colleagues in Iraq, know that Kory and Cooper were best friends. His buddies in Iraq (both 2 and 4 legged,) witnessed that bond on a daily basis, as they worked as part of the K9 teams.

We have shed many tears, said many prayers, as news reached us, here at home, of the loss of this precious team.

10 Jul 2007 2:33

Kory and Cooper.....I remember the first day I met you in SSD school, I took off my rank and made believe we was the same didn't believe me....I miss ya man and Gabe misses his buddy Cooper...I was honored to have been able to hang out with you for those 5 months and to have become friends with you....we miss and love you and we will never forget you.....R.I.P.

Cooper was officially a SSD (Specialized Search Dog) for Team 1 in Iraq. That was his official title, but as anyone who knows anything about dogs generally, and our K9 teams in particular, that SSD designation doesn't even come close to doing justice to all that Cooper and Kory meant to each other.

There are many stories in the newspapers about Kory, and most of them recognise the important place that Cooper had in his life. This one:

Local soldier dies of wounds from IED attack

Story Updated: Jul 11, 2007 at 2:27 PM PDT

Cpl. Kory D. Wiens, 20, of Independence, Ore. died July 6 of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Muhammad Sath, Iraq.

Kory was born September 6, 1986 in Albany, Ore. He was the middle son of three boys and an older sister. He was named after his grandfather who was a canine handler during the Korean War....

Kory enlisted into the Army to gain experience for pursuing a career in law enforcement. He attended canine school at the 341st Training Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where he met his partner and friend, a yellow Labrador Retriever named Cooper. Cooper was a specialized search dog trained to find firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Kory and Cooper shared a special bond, spending most of their time together. Kory often referred to Cooper as his "son". The two were featured in many news articles.

Kory and Cooper were assigned to the 94th Mine Dog Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The two deployed to Iraq together in January. Their abilities to detect TNT, C-4, detonation cords, smokeless powder and mortars saved countless lives by taking explosives and other IED manufacturing materials off the streets of Iraq.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Pfc. Kory Wiens of the 94th Engineer Detachment, takes his charge, Cooper, a yellow lab out on a search mission. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Laura M. Bigenho.CAMP VICTORY — They may not carry firearms or communicate as humans do, but specialized search dogs are equipped and trained for battle in ways that make a soldier's job more efficient and the streets of Iraq safer.

SSDs are a unique group of canines "trained for the military operational environment to find firearms, ammunition and explosives during a variety of missions," ...

Pfc. Kory Wiens of the 94th Engineer Detachment has been with his dog, Cooper, for nearly a year. The 20-year-old combat engineer said he's grateful to be a dog handler. When Wiens first met the yellow lab, the pup didn't know simple obedience commands. That's all changed.

"I got to teach him all the things he knows, today," Wiens said. "Seeing him out there working is very rewarding. It's amazing to see how far he's come."

Cooper has become more like a kid than a dog to Wiens. He introduces Cooper to everybody as his son, and said being with him is just like watching a kid grow up.

"It's a lot of fun having him in Iraq," Wiens said. "There's never a dull moment with him."

Kory and Cooper will always remain part of a tight-knit fraternity. Yes, to the official military, these dogs may be just another tool. Historically, dogs have always served in times of war. They have been an integral part of winning any war. There is a site worth looking at about the proud history of US War dogs. Lots of facts and interesting reading here.

[courtesy of SA K9 team]
The official position may be that dogs are machines, but as this picture clearly shows, our troops in our K9 teams, have a relationship that extends far beyond the official!

A colleague of Kory's and Cooper's , K9 team handler SSgt Robert Prim, works with Judy. He sent this message (quoted with his full permission):

SSD team was doing a search in a village. MWD did respond only thing the team and the security element was too deep in the village. The whole area was wired and Cooper triggerd a pressure plate when handler called him back.

This proves that we (MWD TEAMS) need more training and more support. The THREAT IS REAL!!!!!!!!!! WE are in front of many teams moving alone, so others can live! I put my life in a best friend's paws daily and my MWD puts his life on the line for 100s or sometimes 1000s daily!

Please take a small moment to remember those who have fallen and those who are to replace them.

SSgt Robert Prim
Military Working Dog Handler
Explosive Detector Dog Team

To anyone, it has to be obvious that teams such as this one - these two best buddies, father and "son" - are so much more than statistics, or tools.

From Kassie's MySpace Bulletin board come these comments (quoted with her permission!):

Handler Greg "..... The dogs are usually looked at by the non k9 military as tools, weapons, and a number. to us they are our partners, and friends, even though we realize if we have to send our dog out somewhere, we take the chance on never seeing them again. "

and from Handler Vinnie:"Victory isn't that far from me at all. Damn, I'm sorry to hear that... I believe Heaven is the place where everything that is inherently good and kind in this world cardinal instincts...just love. And that's where I hope to see Masto again someday. Just like Kory and Cooper are together now."

And so it is...

There is an interesting article on MWD, from 2004, on the US Dept of Defense site. Back then it was estimated that there were approximately 2,300 working dogs. Great article, if all you are looking for is a general overview of MWD. You can read that here.

That phrase - "approximately 2,300 dogs" - nor any generic overview of MWD, can do justice to the heroes such as Cooper working side by side with their partners.

Anyone who wants to truly know the measure, the contribution, of such special heroes as Kory and Cooper, need look no further than Kory's MySpace page here. Many are leaving messages both for Kory and for Kory's family. One such is this:

9 Jul 2007 16:55

Kory, We miss you buddy. I want to thank you for your friendship and your sacrifice to our country. It was truely an honor serving with you. You are a fine young man and one of the best soldiers I ever had the honor of serving beside. I will always remember your cheerfullness, and your desire to learn and be the best. Although our missions took us on differant paths, my time with you stateside was always a pleasure. You will be sorely missed and those who knew you were truely better because of it. May God wrap you in his arms now and keep you.

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." II Timothy Ch4 V7

Godspeed Brother, may you rest easy.

Yes. Kory AND Cooper, together, have fought a good fight...kept the faith.
God bless you Cpl. Wiens and Cooper. Together, as heroes, forever!


You can see the orignal tribute with pictures at Tanker Bros Kory & Cooper

Army Cpl. Kory D. Wiens and Cooper were killed in action on 7/6/07.

1 comment:

auntybrat said...

I have to believe it is all part of a Highwe Plan that Kory and Cooper crossed the Rainbow Bridge together.

My love and thanks to them, their family and their Iraqi 'family'.