Heroic bomb, attack dog 'Valdo' saves 4 coalition lives
TSgt. Kevin Wallace
Regional Command-West Public Affairs
HERAT, Afghanistan (April 5, 2011) -- Petty Officer 1st Class Valdo is a Navy military working dog and he's trained to smell explosives.
Though Valdo is a veteran at bomb and improvised explosive device detection, the 7-year-old patrol dog's abilities were tested on an April 3 combat foot patrol north of the Bala Murghab security bubble in Badghis Province, Afghanistan.
Red Platoon, Bulldog Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment scouts from Fort Carson, Colo., ventured further than coalition forces ever had before on the mission, and plotted fighting positions, and to anticipate possible enemy location.
Valdo's role was to smell out mines, IEDs or booby traps. He served honorably.
"Not all dogs are cut out to be patrol dogs. He was hand selected in Germany," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Lee, Valdo's handler, who hails from Lynnhurst, N.J.
Red Platoon came under a sustained attack the following morning, and Valdo was injured by a rocket propelled grenade, which breached Red Platoon's fighting position and landed directly behind him.
Valdo was seriously injured in the blast. He absorbed most of the grenade's shrapnel, which possibly saved the lives of for other nearby servicemembers.
"If Valdo wasn't here, I'm pretty sure I'd be dead right now," said Pfc. Ben Bradley, Red Platoon scout, who hails from Sarasota, Fla.
Bradley was dug into a firing position merely three feet from Valdo, and suffered minor injuries to his leg.
A fellow Sailor carried Valdo two kilometers south of the spot he was wounded to Combat Outpost Metro, where Valdo was treated by Spc. Kellen West, Red Platoon medic.
He was then air medical evacuated to Forward Operating Base Todd. Once there, a doctor stabilized Valdo then sent him on another medevac to Camp Arena, Herat, where Valdo remained in stable condition April 5.
It is doubtful that Valdo will continue to serve as a working dog, which may end up being a blessing in disguise for Lee, who'd hoped to adopt Valdo but was having trouble aligning his rotation date from Rota, Spain, to Valdo's retirement date.
In light of the heroic wounds Valdo suffered, his service will likely end in the near future.
"You get pretty close to the dogs," said Lee. "[Valdo and I] are always together. We live in the same tent, eat at the same times, and don't really have much, so make do with what we've got."