SGT Adam Leigh Cann-Semper Fi War Dog
Everyday we hear about many of or our men and women in our armed forces dying while fighting the war on terror. It has become so common to see headlines that say another military member has died that most of us have become numb to this kind of news. We glance at the headline and then move on. But to others those men and women mean so much more than just another statistic in the news. In their families and their hometowns they are a child, a sibling, an inspiration, a teacher, a classmate, a teammate, a parent, and so many other meanings. Well Sgt. Adam Cann was one of my best friends.
Adam Cann is from Davie, Florida and he died on January 5th, 2006 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, he was 23 years old. He came to Camp Pendleton in the fall of 2002. He followed his older brother Justin and enlisted in the Marines in 2000. He had done a year tour in Okinawa prior to coming to us at Pendleton and he brought both experience and leadership. He was tough and full of ambition and had a never back down mentality. In fact, we would often have to back him in confrontations he would get into over the weekends. However, if there were anyone I would want to be in a fighting hole with it would be Adam. They guy was as dedicated and loyal Marine I had ever met. He loved being a dog handler, but he loved being a Marine even more. When you love what you do you usually do well at it. Well Adam was an excellent Marine and a fantastic dog handler. He constantly pushed himself and others to be better.
Adam’s dog Bruno was not the ideal dog a handler would like to be partnered with. Bruno came to Pendleton as a young newly certified dog at the same time Adam arrived. Bruno displayed a submissive personality and didn’t seem to be very tough. We would often tease Adam about his “pet” dog. However, under Adam’s guidance, Bruno made great strides and eventually Bruno became a tough, aggressive, very reliable dog. Through Adam’s hard work and persistence, Bruno and Adam had become one of Pendleton’s premier dog teams. Adam’s hard work rubbed off on everyone else as we all competed to be the best teams we could be.
Adam and Bruno went on to do two tours in Iraq. While overseas Adam was never one to stay at the base and work the gates. He volunteered for every mission and patrol he could. In fact, after Adam’s first tour ended he volunteered to immediately go back onto his second tour without taking much of a break. The guy just loved being in the action. In fact, the day Adam died, Adam wasn’t even supposed to be there either. He had just come off some missions in the city when he got back and saw that two other dog teams, Sgt Jesse Maldonaldo and Cpl Brendan Poelart, were about to go out on another one. They had told him he didn’t have to go but Adam refused and insisted he go with them.
There was an Iraqi police recruiting event going on and they were tasked to help provide security to the area. There was a line of Iraqi’s waiting their turn to be interviewed outside of the compound Adam was helping secure when somehow a suicide bomber had snuck into the middle of the line. The bomber set himself off and killed many of the Iraqi’s in the line and wounded dozens more. Sgt Maldonaldo was towards the front of the line, Cpl Poelart was toward the rear and Adam was in the middle with no one between him and the bomber and took the full hit of the blast. A US soldier was also killed and many others wounded including Jesse and Brendan. However, someone who wasn’t killed was Adam’s dog Bruno. Bruno survived the blast with minor wounds. As Adam lay there Bruno laid next to him and put his head on Adam’s chest. Bruno is still apart of the Camp Pendleton unit today.
I remember all the great times Adam, myself, and all the Marines had together over those couple years. Adam, myself, and another good friend of ours Sgt. Jason Cannon all loved football and every Sunday we would go to a bar in Oceanside called “Rookies” to watch all of our favorite teams and talk smack to one another. Adam was a die hard Miami Dolphin fan, being from Northern California I am a Oakland Raider fan, and Jason from Tennessee was a die heard Titan fan. We would each wear our team jerseys and watch football all day. As good as a Marine Adam was he was just as good as a friend. Prior to Adam leaving on his last tour I had just gotten out of the Marines and was in a transition period. Adam had shared an apartment with Sgt Maldonaldo and Maldonaldo’sgirlfriend. He allowed me to stay in his room when he left until I found a place to stay. I had just started moving all of my things to a new place when I found out about him. I helped his brother Justin pack all of his belongings up. Ask any Marine who knew him, and they would all describe him in similar ways, he was a true Marine, loved all the action, and you could count on him with your life.