A cloudy, overcast sky, didn’t stop hundreds from joining the celebration, and remembrance, of Parker County heroes during a Veteran’s Day ceremony at Weatherford College last week.
The guest of honor this year was deployed five times to Afghanistan and Iraq. He located more than 50 bombs during his last year oversees and is credited with saving 3,000 lives.
Corporal Max N242 is a bomb-sniffing Labrador Retriever who now lives a life of relaxation in Parker County at the home of John and Julia Park. Their son, Marine Capt. Jeffrey Park, adopted the dog once Max’s days of service were completed, but his parents continue to care for Max while their son is active in the military.
John Park is an advocate of these service dogs who often go unnoticed, especially since Max saved his son’s life on three different occasions. Park is also a supporter of the Military Working Dog Retirement Act of 2015 that would recognize these military dogs as personnel and not equipment as they are currently categorized.
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“It would change history,” Park said. “If Max had been retired in Germany or Afghanistan he would have just been left there… There were more than 4,000 dogs in Vietnam when we pulled out there. People don’t realize that.”
An unfortunate event led to Max’s medical retirement while in the United States. Max and another Lab, Ace, were sent to Arizona for training before heading back to Afghanistan. The dogs were left in a hot trailer without water...Ace died. Max suffered a heat stroke and was ultimately taken out of commission.
Capt. Jeffery Park had already put his name down to adopt Max when his time in the service was complete. And had the dog reached retirement while oversees, Park would have been responsible for paying thousands of dollars in fees to adopt and ship Max back to Texas.
“Jeff said Max had saved his life three times, and he wanted to save Max this time,” Park said.
Crystal Brown, Coordinator of Public Relations with Weatherford College contributed to this report.