Navy SEAL’s Dog Is Loyal To The End

The funerals of the SEALs and other American soldiers killed in the Chinook crash in Afghanistan have been taking place across the country. They’re all sad in their own way, but there was one that just stands out:

Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson lay in a coffin, draped in an American flag, in front of a tearful audience mourning his death in Afghanistan. Soon an old friend appeared, and like a fellow soldier on a battlefield, his loyal dog refused to leave him behind.

Tumilson’s Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, was photographed lying by Tumilson’s casket in a heart-wrenching image taken at the funeral service in Tumilson’s hometown of Rockford, Iowa, earlier this week. Hawkeye walked up to the casket at the beginning of the service and then dropped down with a heaving sigh as about 1,500 mourners witnessed a dog accompanying his master until the end.

The photo was snapped by Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, and posted on her Facebook page in memory of the San Diego resident. Tumilson, 35, was one of 30 American troops, including 22 Navy Seals, who was killed when a Taliban insurgent shot down a Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade on Aug. 6.

“I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn’t make it or couldn’t see what I could from the aisle,” Pembleton wrote on her Facebook page. “To say that he was an amazing man doesn’t do him justice. The loss of Jon to his family, military family and friends is immeasurable.”

Hawkeye was such a huge part of Tumilson’s life that Tumilson’s family followed the dog down the aisle as they entered the service in front of a capacity crowd in the gymnasium at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School. Hawkeye then followed Tumilson’s good friend, Scott Nichols, as Nichols approached the stage to give a speech. As Nichols prepared to memorialize his friend, Hawkeye dutifully laid down near the casket.

Here’s the report from the local CBS television station:

Pardon me, there’s something in my eye.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. I think they need to dust in here. I just got something in my eye.

  2. David says:

    Good God. That’s just…well, yeah, it’s dusty in here, too.

  3. John Peabody says:

    Sure, I have something in my eye… … Our culture loves our mascots, and this icon is a well-known one. It will alwas, always put tears in ones’ eyes. People should figure out why we click on stories such as this and completely ignore “DoD announces the deaths of three servicemembers in Iraq”.

  4. rodney dill says:

    A sad, but powerful picture.

    The two Todd Heisler photo’s here are along the same vein.

    http://www.poyi.org/63/11/01.php

  5. matt says:

    Okay that second picture has me straight crying..

  6. jkp says:

    @John Peabody: @John Peabody:

    Show some damned respect.

  7. Dood says:

    @jkp:

    This I find a highly amusing comment.

    John Peabody is highlighting the fact that we are drawn to sad snippets of a dog laying by a casket instead of being drawn to it for the simple fact it was a service for a soldier. JP wasn’t being disrepectful — far from it. The crux I drew from his social commentary was that more attention in general should be paid to service members who give their lives for our country — loyal dog or not. Which I agree with, and I believe which reflects JP’s respect.

    Does that reflect the “mascot” nature of our society? Perhaps or perhaps not. Debate till you’re blue in the face. But knee-jerking and asking someone who doesn’t make some soppy comment to “show some damned respect” when in fact he is trying to highlight that very issue in American society (again, my interpratation) is hilarious. You obviously just shot it off without a shred of thought.

  8. rodney dill says:

    @Dood:

    It will alwas, always put tears in ones’ eyes. People should figure out why we click on stories such as this and completely ignore “DoD announces the deaths of three servicemembers in Iraq”.

    It’s only John Peabody’s view that we are only drawn to these stories and that we don’t feel equally about the deaths for all servicemembers. That is his misinterpretation. Many of us are sad for the deaths and appreciative for the sacrifice of all our servicemembers. We don’t choose what the media wants to provide, but many times a single iconic image or story will come to represent our overall feelings. John Peabody is callous and ignorant in assuming that others (other than himself) ignore the sacrifice that our military makes to serve this country. jkp is right on track and your comment was obviously made without much consideration.

  9. Dood says:

    @rodney dill:

    John Peabody is callous and ignorant in assuming that others (other than himself) ignore the sacrifice that our military makes to serve this country.

    Perhaps, but you are obviously reading more into the comment than there is and totally sidestepping the issue. I understand the benefit and desire of such a high moral position, but you are missing the point. Obviously, to say “Americans are ignorant of the sacrifices of our military” is simply inviting blowback and that’s what you seem to assume is being said. Rather, the point why the focus is on some deaths and not on others. If I asked you to recall all the military deaths in the 3 months, could you? Is that being ignorant? No. I can’t either and that does, on a deep level, bother me.

    So, again to clarify, the crux is the sociological aspect of the level attention the service member’s dog at the funeral draws in a comparative sense.

    If you took personal offense that John thinks you don’t pay enough attention to military deaths, then I understand and might be inclined to agree if I felt the same way. Totally understandable. Now that that’s out of the way, how does a comment of “show some damned respect” respond to the comment? How is John not showing respect to the service member(s) death? Stop acting as if it’s a “high road vs low road” and try to understand the dialogue.

  10. rodney dill says:

    @Dood:

    Perhaps, but you are obviously reading more into the comment than there is and totally sidestepping the issue.

    You may be sidestepping an issue, but me? Not so much. The issue I’ve addressed is his statement that Americans completely ignore some service members’ deaths, and jkp’s subsequent comment. I am staying within dialog on that issue that exists and not creating another based on embellishing the comments of another farther than is warranted.

    I understand the benefit and desire of such a high moral position, but you are missing the point. Obviously, to say “Americans are ignorant of the sacrifices of our military” is simply inviting blowback and that’s what you seem to assume is being said.

    That is what is being said with “People should figure out why we click on stories such as this and completely ignore “DoD announces the deaths of three servicemembers in Iraq”.” and he went on this vein in lieu of showing some respect for the serviceman in the post by Doug. It was a carelessly worded statement and did get the blowback you mention. You can’t legitimately claim to know it means something else without further explanation from Peabody, and not just your own interpretation. (Unless you are John Peabody, which seems unlikely at this point in time.)

    Rather, the point why the focus is on some deaths and not on others.

    That is a good question for the media and family members whom I’ll assume wouldn’t all necessarily want the media intrusion into what could be considered a private family matter. Plus I already covered that in one of my previously responses. You should go back and reread it and try to comprehend it. (Also that is MAY be Peabody’s focus, but not the focus of the original post, which was the story of THIS serviceman and his dog, not what you are trying to make it.)

    If I asked you to recall all the military deaths in the 3 months, could you? Is that being ignorant? No. I can’t either and that does, on a deep level, bother me.

    I can’t and actually it is being ignorant, but not in a bad way. It doesn’t particular bother me and probably wouldn’t bother you so much as you come to understand the human condition. People focus on what is in front of them, and things they can identify with. We are sad when someone like Winehouse (just an example) loses her life too young, but never even hear about many other young people that lose their lives. We identify more with Amy Winehouse as we’ve listened to her songs and seen her in concert or on TV. The mind also can get overloaded and filter out too much of bad things if there is a deluge of it. I may not know all the details of the life of every servicemember, but I don’t let that keep me from remembering and honoring their collective memory and sacrifices. The loss we feel for the ones we get to know about, serves for the loss we feel for all, even the ones we never hear about.

    So, again to clarify, the crux is the sociological aspect of the level attention the service member’s dog at the funeral draws in a comparative sense.

    No, that is not the crux to me, that is just your interpretation of Peabody’s comments. The symbology of this picture is something people can identify with, not something that necessarily makes them overlook the situation of others. It’s a powerful image, like the others I linked to in my earliest posts. You possibly overlooked these, maybe because they didn’t contain dogs.

    If you took personal offense that John thinks you don’t pay enough attention to military deaths, (his comment states others, not he, aren’t doing this) then I understand and might be inclined to agree if I felt the same way.

    John Peabody in his comment didn’t pay much attention to this particular loss, instead he went off on a tangent based on his own misinterpretation. I didn’t take much personal offense at Peabody’s comment other than it was off the mark for the post being offered, but I fully agree with jkp’s comment which to my mind showed considerable constraint.

    Totally understandable. Now that that’s out of the way, how does a comment of “show some damned respect” respond to the comment? How is John not showing respect to the service member(s) death?

    The question is how is he showing respect for this particular serviceman. …and since we are off on a tangent we could both deserve the same remark from jkp.

    Stop acting as if it’s a “high road vs low road” and try to understand the dialogue.

    How am I acting high road versus low road?. Peabody made an erroneous conclusion that all/many Americans completely ignore some deaths, and I called him on it, or more defended jkp’s comments on the issue. I fully understand the dialog, I’m just ignoring most of yours as it isn’t germane to the discussion at hand. I think you have read too much into John Peabody’s simple comments based on your own feelings on the matter. You are over analyzing his meaning. We should keep in mind that this post was about the impact of the death of one servicemember, not a forum for understanding how the human mind works in response to grief and loss. That would be a good subject for a different post.