Saturday, November 27, 2010
Johnny Crawford/Atlanta Journal & Constitution/AP
Target (right) and Rufus became heroes when they kept a suicide bomber from taking lives in Afghanistan. A third dog, Sasha, was killed in that attack.
Sgt. Terry Young says that when he was a U.S. Army medic in Afghanistan, soldiers were drawn to stray dogs who wandered onto their base in the Paktia province, searching for food and warmth.
A suicide bomber launched himself into those barracks last February. Three dogs who had been essentially adopted by U.S. soldiers, and named Rufus, Sasha and Target, snarled and snapped at the bomber. The man who had come there to blow himself up cringed at the loyal ferocity of the dogs and set off his bomb outside. Five soldiers were injured, but no one died.
Target ended up coming home with young and retiring to live with a family here in the US. But, use to the wide open spaces of Afghanistan, and like most dogs, Target had to explore the neighborhood.
Target strolled through the doggie-door of the Young family’s home and out into her neighborhood. She was found and taken to the animal control center, and later identified by Sgt. Young from an online photograph.
But before Young could take Target home, someone at the center made a terrible, thoughtless error, for which the worker makes no excuses. Target was mistaken for another dog and euthanized.
Sgt. Young wept as he told reporters how his 4-year-old daughter cries and says, "Daddy, bring Target home." A dog who saved warriors was killed by a careless mistake. But Target risked her life to save others and lived to feel the love of a family. She died in the line of duty.
For the full story in print and read by the dulcet tones of NPR's Scott Simon, click here.
"This photo has become an icon. This is a photo that represents so many survivors whose childhood was robbed away from them by the German Nazis. And this boy stands for that childhood that went missing."
-Dan PoratThe photo was included in what Porat calls a "victory album" submitted by SS Gen. Jurgen Stroop to the Nazi leadership in Berlin. Stroop was in charge of moving Jews from the ghetto to death camps. He promised to do it within three days; it ended up taking him more than four weeks. For more on the story of "the boy" and what he represents in history and in today's psychie, go to NPR's Weekend's Edition by clicking here.
One thing is known. The boy is younger than 10 years old, because he doesn't have a Star of David on his clothing.