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We salute Ricochet, the badass therapy dog that surfs with wounded veterans
While the news may be abuzz with stories about Conan, the hero dog on the Delta Force raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, there's another canine who's been quietly serving behind the scenes: Ricochet.
Or, if you want to use her social media handle: Surf Dog Ricochet.
In addition to being a champion surf dog — and how have I gone my whole life not realizing that's a thing — the 11-year-old Golden Retriever is a certified therapy dog who assists individuals with physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities, as part of the nonprofit Puppy Prodigies, in San Diego. And recently, Ricochet has taken to working with wounded veterans, both as a support dog, and as, well, a bit of a surfing coach.
Jose Martinez and Ricochet out on the water.(SurfDogRicochet)
This summer, Ricochet and Judy Fridono, her guardian and the organization's executive director, met up with Jose Martinez, who served three years in the Army until an improvised explosive device strike in March 2012 left him in a coma for 10 days, and cost him both his legs and his right arm.
"It was difficult, after my accident I was very angry," Martinez said in a video interview on Surf Dog Ricochet's YouTube page. "I felt like at every single thing I was doing I was a failure. I went to war and I failed at that as well."
In 2009 Ricochet hopped on the surfboard of a 14-year-old adaptive surfer, becoming the world's first canine-assisted surf therapy and adaptive surfing dog. Since then, she has worked with hundreds of kids with special needs, people with disabilities, and wounded veterans.
"So when I first got the chance to surf it was a whole different world. It changed my perspective and I kept going, said Martinez, who surfs competitively and hopes to make it to the Olympic's and represent the U.S. in Adaptive Surfing one day. "I want people to know and understand that anything is possible. I'm a triple amputee — I was told that I'd never walk again in my life; I walk, plus I surf, plus I swim, plus I do archery, you know? Just keep trying."
Of his time with Ricochet, Martinez said in the video that "there's this unified connection that we have with each other. It's pretty awesome having a one-on-one connection, where you're not speaking with each other, but this energy that we're sharing with each other, I definitely feel like I can communicate with her."
29 years after Desert Storm, an Air Force general says we’ve forgotten the lessons that made it so successful
When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.
Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.
"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."
The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.
Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.
Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.
The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
US troops are still ready to 'fight tonight' against North Korea despite canceled exercises, general says
U.S. troops are still ready to "fight tonight" against North Korea despite the indefinite suspension of major military training exercises on the Korean peninsula, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.
"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.