June 25, 2017
Belgian Malinois bomb- sniffing dog Iireland and her handler, Sgt. Joshua Sutherland, USMC, served two tours in Iraq before she was retired and was adopted by the Sutherland family. Sadly, at the age of 13, the brave bomb- sniffing dog Iireland passed away. To honor her bravery and service, the military gave Iireland an amazing memorial service with full military honors at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Kentucky, U.S.A.
From birth, Iireland was a military dog. She was born and raised at the Military Working Dog Breeding Program at Lackland Air force Base. Originally a breeding dog, Iireland was then trained to become a bomb- sniffing dog for the Marines. After completeing the training, Iireland served two tours in Iraq in 2007 and 2009. After Iireland's second tour ended, her handler Sutherland adopted her. They lived in Hawaii at first then later in Kentucky.
At the Camp Nelson National Cemetery, Iireland was given 21- gun salute, a cannon fire, taps, and the presentation of the flag. The American legion, Camp Nelson Honor Guard, and the Marine Corps Military Police Alpha of Lexington, together with some military and canine units attended and assisted in the memorial service to honor Iireland for one last time. For her handle Sutherland, this was an emotional but at the same time, a proper way to say goodbye to a fellow veteran soldier and most especially to a great friend.
According to Shawnda Ebert, chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and also helped arrange Iireland's memorial service, this was the first time ever that a military dog was honored at a memorial service at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. “They deserve the same treatment as our brothers and sisters who fought over there” Ebert said when she was asked why such a memorial was needed. Later on, the military dog Iireland's body was buried at the Sutherland's farm because The Camp Nelson National Cemetery does not currently allow military animals to be buried on the property.
“The amount of people who came out, the love and support – it was more than we could have asked for. It was great.” said Sutherland after the service.
According to Sutherland, he and his fellow marines felt safe when they were in the field with Iireland because of the job she was doing.
When Iireland passed away, Sutherland said, “It was the toughest loss that I’ve ever had to endure.”
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