Rico The Beloved Combat Dog Is Given Proper Burial
Cailyn Finkel 8/9/2018
While the brave men and women in the United States Armed Forces risk their lives every single day to keep us safe, there's a quiet population of furry service members who do the same. These well-trained canine companions sniff for explosives, protect their handlers in the line of fire and are great company during lonely tours overseas.
Thankfully, United States Marine Sergeant Beckley was lucky enough to have a K-9 companion named Rico during two different tours in Afghanistan.
Wherever Sergeant Beckley went, Rico was sure to follow. The two were inseparable on the battlefield and off of it - so when it came time for Rico to retire, Sergeant Beckley knew exactly where to send him...
At 12 years old, Rico was sent to live with Sergeant Beckley's parents in Michigan. From the moment he arrived, the elder Sergeant Beckley (the younger sergeant's father who is also a Marine) was smitten with the pup.
Elder Sergeant Beckley told TODAY that they were two peas in a pod.
"He lived for me every minute. At night I would get up to go to the bathroom, and he would lay down by the door. If I left for a weekend, he wouldn't eat until I got home. Every day, I couldn't wait to get home from work. He would give out three or four deep barks. My wife would be waiting with a cup of coffee, and Rico would cry until we took him outside."
Even though the Beckleys were thrilled Rico was home safe and sound, they knew he didn't have much time left. The aging pup clearly suffered from several debilitating health problems - and the vet's diagnosis was the confirmation they dreaded.
Rico was on the last legs of life.
Instead of letting Rico pass without the honor he deserved, the Beckley's decided to do the right thing. They contacted their son who was still serving overseas, planned a memorial worthy of his service to our country, and called their friends and family.
Elder Sergeant Beckley told TODAY that he was determined to give Rico an exit from this earth filled with love and the respect he deserved.
"We didn't know if 15 or 150 people would show up, but we wanted to honor Rico for his service to our country and to our family."
When the day came for Rico to be put down, the younger Sergeant Beckley flew home for just 40 hours, the family came together, and they honored the beloved combat pup the right way. Both Sergeant Beckleys wore their Marine uniform and they held a beautiful military service and burial for the beloved pup.
Elder Sergeant Beckley explained that doing this for Rico was the only appropriate thing to do. He was the hero who kept his son safe in a war zone for years.
"He was there [for my son] when I couldn't be. He made an incredible impact on our lives."
They will never forget Rico's bravery, snuggles, and wagging tail. He was a true American hero!
Watch this incredible send-off to the rainbow bridge below. We know he's playing fetch in Doggy Heaven!