Fallen GI’s military dog starts new life

From Jim Barnett
CNN Pentagon Producer

LAWRENCEVILLE, Georgia (CNN) — Bo, a 2-year-old black Labrador and specialized search dog, has good reason to be wagging his tail.

art.dog.cnn.jpg

Willie Smith fought back tears Friday as

he officially received Bo, a military working

dog wounded in Iraq.

The military working canine officially hung up his war leash at a moving ceremony Friday and retired to the good life in Georgia after being wounded in a roadside bombing that killed his handler in Afghanistan two months ago.

Staff Sgt. Donald Tabb, 29, serving his fourth deployment with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, died February 5, when his vehicle was hit by the roadside bomb. Bo, who was trained to clear roadways, find explosives and bomb-making materials, survived and has been adopted by Tabb’s family.

Willie Smith, Tabb’s brother, fought back tears Friday as he officially received the dog.

“I just want to say, having Bo means a great deal to myself and my family,” he said.

“Mr. Smith, today you’ve agreed to take Bo into your home to be part of your family,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Timmins, kennel master with the 6th Military Police Detachment. “You’re not just receiving a pet today. Bo is an outstanding soldier, and he served his country with distinction.”

Bo and Tabb went through extensive training together, graduating in March 2007 from the Defense Department’s Dog Training Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The dog’s specialized training allowed him to be “off the leash at distances up to 100 meters,” according to an Army news release.

“It’s impossible to spend two minutes with this dog without smiling at least once,” Timmins said.

Of Tabb, Timmins added, “The one constant thing he would always tell me is how much everybody loved Bo. And I wholeheartedly believe that a dog takes on a personality of its handler … because everyone who knew Sgt. Tabb loved him too.”

Tabb served with the Military Working Dog section, 6th Military Police Detachment, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Traditionally, a military working dog outranks the handler by one grade. Bo was officially retired as master sergeant. Tabb, an Atlanta native, was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class at Friday’s ceremony at the Gwinnett County Fallen Heroes Memorial.

CNN’s Jignesh Patel contributed to this report from Lawrenceville.

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