SGT Adam Leigh Cann-Semper Fi War Dog

Adam and BrunoEveryday 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.

Adam is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.










37 Responses to “SGT Adam Leigh Cann-Semper Fi War Dog”

  1. Sgt Lori Luna Says:

    This brings tears to my eyes and pride to my heart. I think of Adam everyday and push myself harder with him in mind. When I run 5 1/2 miles and feel like I want to stop, I imagine him laughing at me and expecting for me to set the standard and lead by example. He never wanted anyone to show their weakness, and he was a guiding force that brought many of us close together over several years.

    The last time I hung out with Adam, we all got really drunk and talked about life, friends, the Marine Corps. Adam was there to help me move my stuff before I deployed and to lift my spirits after what was a hard time in my life. He was always having fun and loved to just live in the moment.

    I have lots of memories of Adam, Cannon, and I going to the gym every day while the 2 of them were ending their deployment, and I was beginning mine. The three of us would eat together for lunch and dinner every day. Almost never skipping a beat in our routine, he was always a friend and confidant that I could depend on. We both always strived for excellence and I always have him in mind in my daily routine today.

    I am proud of him, and I imagine that he is proud of all of us!

  2. Wow, what a great story.

    RIP brother…

    Mike thanks for sharing from your heart!



  3. Leigh Cann Says:

    Hi Lori, I’m Adam’s Dad. That sure was a nice piece that you put in the website. This is the first time that I have seen it. I guess that you had just put the comment in.
    Everything you say, I know. Adam was such a joy; such a strong personality that lives the moment, but gave so much to others.
    I hope that you are doing well.
    My wife and I just came back from USMC Logistics Base, Barstow, Ca. for another dedication of a new K-9 training facility. Sure did make us proud. We stayed with Joe Prado and had a great time there.
    Write back if you get the chance. My e-mail is
    Thanks for being a graet friend to Adam and serving our country.


  4. SSgt Vince Barna Says:

    Unfortunately, and ironically I just learned about Adams death from You-tube. Still a little in shock about this. Adam was one of my best friends from boot camp, and unfortunately, we lost touch over the years.

    To the Cann family, I can only empathize for your loss. Adam was an awesome human being who managed to bring a smile to everyones face even in the worst of times, and was an inspiration to all who were around him.

    Semper Fi,
    SSgt Vince Barna

  5. SSgt Kollatschny, Aubrey Says:

    This is this the first time I have seen this since the day Cannon and Dowing called me while I was working for Blackwater after Hurricane Katrina and everyday I think of him I start to cry as a grown man and then stop and remember that Cann would smack me silly if he saw me doing that and I lift my head high and salute him as he looks down on us still protecting..

    Adam Cann was a great friend and we all know you only find few of those that are truly great. I could go on and on about him but Lori said enough and all is true. We all had great friendships with him.

    I sometimes go on base to the kennels and found out that his dog Bruno is gonna be decertified and adopted and and I am working this process to adopt him. I would rather see on of his friends or family get this dog and not a random person cause Bruno acts like Adam alot lol…..

    To the Cann family:
    If ANYTHING I can do ever please let me know cause I will make sure it gets done or talk to someone who can. My heart goes out to all of you and love you all like I love Adam as a brother. When all the adoption stuff is done with Bruno I will email and see if any of you interested in having him and if not I would gladly take care of him… 951-375-8599 or 979-865-1616

  6. Emily Taylor Says:

    Thank you to whoever made this. Adam is my little brother and I (we)miss him more than you can possibly imagine… The effects of his death were catastrophic. But, he truly believed and loved what he was doing… And we supported him. I’ll miss him forever. And tomorrow I’ll proudly be wearing the T-shirt that was made (By Jason I believe) after he died.

    (The big sister)

  7. I think what you had to say was realy touching and it makes meso sad to here that such a good person had to lose his life in the line of duty i hope for the best in the family and in his friends… you will be in my prayers. OOHRAH!

  8. Paul Hanner Says:

    I just want to say thank you for having this on here. I never knew SGT Cann, but I do wish i could have met him. From everything I have read he was a great Marine and a great person. I enlisted in the Marines eight months ago and one of the reasons why I did was because I think its the best way to say thank you to all the heroes like Sgt. Cann. I am filled with great sadness to hear what happened to him. I just want you to know that he is a inspiration to me and I will be thinking about him while I am in boot camp and also everyday I put on the uniform. I just want you all to know how much I appreciate Sgt.Cann. My prayers are with him and all his friends and family. Thank you

    Poolee Hanner

  9. YM. Sgt.Maj. Elante R. Parker Says:

    Semper FI OORAHHHHHHHHHHH Death Before Dishonor

  10. why do the good die young. till the day of judgement. semper fidelis.

  11. Chris Meade 2 REP Legion Etrangere Says:

    You served your country with honor and you paid with your life that others can life in peace. God bless you and your family…RIP Soldier !!!

    Only the dead have seen the end of war. (Plato)

  12. I just read your son’s story and he truly was a hero! Thank you for raising such a wonderful young man.

  13. Nancy Larkin Says:

    Your beloved son and brother is not forgotten. I am deeply honored by his service. My thoughts are with you in your loss.

  14. Semper Fi true here and partner

  15. Although many people oppose the war, soldiers are always prepared to give their lives for peace in the world.

  16. Thank you for your service Lncpl Adam Cann………..Rest in peace….xoxoxo

  17. Nicole T. Says:

    This is so touching! So cool and self-sacrificing!

  18. jonathan Says:

    riposa in pace adam 😦

  19. Margaret Ussak Says:

    Awe…Heart Breaking



    ~~~~~~~~ “THE INCREDIBLY FABULOUS JOHNNY G.” ~~~~~~~~

  21. Emily Wilson x Says:

    I’ve just read all the messages people have put on this wesite, your son and brother really was a true hero and one of the best i’ve heard of ! you really raised a good lad ! i never met Adam, but it makes me so proud to read about such a couragous young man ! RIP soldier, RIP x

  22. What a brave guy it made me really sad to read about this solider

  23. The point in this tragic but inspiring story of life to me was the fact that the words”we read an article about these fallen soldiers and move on” My heart goes out to all who have been blessed with knowing all of the men and women that have risked, continued to risk and lost their lives for the safety of ALL OF US!!! They risk for us all, be thankful and proud that they feel WE are worth it. They are willing to take the risk of never seeing their families again for the freedom and safety of ALL OF OURS!!! God Bless and THANK YOU isnt enough. This particualr story left me sobbing. ADAM…you are one of many AMERICAN HEROES.

  24. Christopher C. Gulyas Says:


    May I take the moment to thank you for your son’s contribution to our nation. As a Navy veteran, I’ve asked myself (on occasion) “do I have that kind of courage?” Probably not but I’ll never know….I’m too old (53 years) to be taken back into the service but I would jump at that chance. There is a saying amongst the ranks “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.” Your son gave all and not in vain. He, along with other Marines, are at their Eternal Detachment, the Gates of Heavan where it is said “The Gates of Heaven Are Guarded By Marines.” Semper Fi, many thanks and God bless you and your family, Yours, Chris Gulyas, PN2, USN (former) NROTC USD / SDSU San Diego, CA.

  25. Chris Sandels Says:

    I served with Adam in Okinawa, Japan. He was one of the finest Marines I knew. We worked together as MP’s and fought together as friends out in town. Lots of great memories! He will be missed by many!

  26. illusioned Says:

    I don’t kno wat brings me here I never knew Adam its only some article I followed trailed me to here, thou Adam is a complete stranger to me I still felt strongly so send my peace to him n his fmly, seems he was a great person. Not that I have anything in common wit the armies for me to leave the comment, but I have developed grt respect for al of thm the warriors since I once truly luvd an army man ,sad part he nvr felt the same n I still miss him. Anyway god bless Adams fmly n his soul.

  27. My show today is dedicated to Adam, I hope I do him honor.

  28. David Koch Says:

    This story has left me both proud and heart broken. To read about this amazing young man and see the messages by the people who were given the gift of knowing Adam makes me so proud to be an American. He gave his all so that we could be free. We shall not forget him and all the others who have made this the greatest country on earth. To his parents, I thank you for bringing into the world, and raising such a fine young man. Rest in peace Marine.

  29. Mike Zunino Says:

    As a Navy veteran, I often kid around withmy devil dog pals at the VFW & the Legion, and they return the favor, but we ALL know that I have NOTHING but respect for the Corps.
    Adam was, by all accounts, an exemplary Marine, & my heart, & my prayers, go out to his family, friends & loved ones; one more Marine, guarding the Gates of Heaven.
    As we say in the Navy, Bravo Zulu, LCPL Cann, & SEMPER FI!!

  30. Jean-Pierre Says:

    R.I.P Adam….J-P Belgium

  31. What an awesome hero. We attended and participated in the Run for the Fallen in Tampa this last weekend. My daughter Cellena had the honor and privilege of running in honor of Sgt. Cann. If anyone knows how we can contact the family to share mementos of that day please email me at

  32. Thank you, family for your sacrifice. It sounds like LCPL Cann was doing what he loved.
    I’m relieved to hear his K-9 is spoken for too.
    Sister of a Marine, NietNam, who made it back!

  33. Santiago Galvan Jr Says:

    I am a former K9 handler and veteran (Army). This man sounds like he was an excellent marine and most importantly a good human being. I wish I would have had an opportunity to have known him. Rest in peace Adam.

  34. I never knew Adam and actually just found out about him through a pic of Bruno laying down “beside” him on FB. My love for animals especially dogs for reasons such as the pic of Bruno led me to google him and was able to read and find out more about him. I see why Bruno loves him so much and was as loyal as he displayed. It’s always a sad time to realize when we lost another good person who has dedicated himself for the lives and good for others. My heart and prayers goes out to all his family, friends, and Bruno even if it’s been over 6 years ago. He is appreciated.

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