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Brendan Looney

BRENDAN LOONEY

After graduating from the Naval Academy in 2004, Brendan began his military career among the members of the Navy intelligence community. He requested a transfer to the Navy SEALs, which was approved in late 2006. He then began BUD/S School in March, 2007, and graduated from SEAL Qualification Training as the “Honorman” for Class 265 on June 22, 2008. Three weeks later, on July 12, Brendan and Amy were married. Within 48 hours of the conclusion of the ceremony, he was deployed to Iraq.

Brendan was deployed a total of four times during his naval service. His first deployment took place when he was part of the intelligence community, with the three ensuing deployments coming as a SEAL. His final deployment, as a member of SEAL Team THREE, began on March 9, 2010.

Prior to his deployment this year, Brendan left his base in San Diego and flew to Annapolis with the dual purpose of visiting his family and attending the Navy-North Carolina lacrosse game that was played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on February 25.

Lacrosse was actually the second sport he competed in while attending the Naval Academy. He spent his first two years at Navy as a member of the football team before transitioning into a lacrosse player starting in the spring of his sophomore season.

One of the proudest lacrosse seasons for both Brendan and his family took place during his senior season at Navy. That year, Brendan and brothers Billy and Stephen helped lead Navy to the NCAA National Championship Game that was played in Baltimore.

On that Memorial Day in 2004, a partisan, patriotic crowd of nearly 50,000 lacrosse fans filled M&T Bank Stadium to support the Midshipmen in their eventual 14-13 loss to Syracuse. On September 22, 2010, 2,000 of Brendan’s fellow U.S. service members gathered in Afghanistan to pay their respects to him and his fallen comrades as they departed for their final journey home. Receiving Brendan upon his return at Dover Air Force Base were 76 members of the Looney family and friends.

MATTHEW FREEMAN

Matthew Freeman

Matthew Freeman packed more into his 29 years than most people do in a lifetime. As a young boy, he was a “river-rat,” guiding his flat-bottomed, Jon-boat through the winding marshlands of the Ogeechee River in his Richmond Hill, Georgia home. He would often return home with wildflowers for his mother, Lisa, a schoolteacher at Richmond Hill Middle School.

As a boy, Matthew was such an avid reader that he would hide under his covers and read by flashlight long into the night. So much so that when he went away to college his mom found a huge pile of batteries under his bed.

As a Boy Scout he took upon himself to fix the town’s centerpiece gazebo when it fell into disrepair, earning him Eagle Scout honors.

He read all of Shakespeare’s works – before he went to high school. He was so well read that when he was asked, as a high school freshman, to teach sophomores about Shakespeare, his teacher explained to the skeptical upperclassmen that Matthew had read most of the works – more than once.

He was a true renaissance man. A two-time tennis champion for his high school team, a saxophonist in the marching band, Matthew sang at his high school graduation – having been nominated and accepted at the United States Naval Academy.

Matthew’s true passion though, was flying. As a young boy he fell in love with flying and went on to become a Marine pilot – the third generation of Freemans to wear Navy wings.

In 2009, he married his childhood sweetheart, Theresa Hess. Three weeks later, he opted out of the relative safety of the cockpit and volunteered for ground action when he heard the Marines needed more ground forces – in Afghanistan.

A week after he arrived, he saw something that led him to call his mother. He said, “Mom, the kids would rather have pens and paper more than anything, even food or water. Would you please start a collection and send them to me?”

Two days later, he was killed in action.

The Matthew Freeman Project: Pens & Paper for Peace was not created because Matthew is dead. Not because he died serving his country. It’s because of how he lived.

A life well spent.

A life given.

In service.

Military Dog Retires

MORE THAN A DECADE OF SERVICE, MILITARY DOG RETIRES

by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/1/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- For a few weeks in January, Mountain Home Air Force Base held the distinction of having the longest-serving military working dog in the Department of Defense.

Base leadership, fellow defenders and other members of the Gunfighter family came out to say farewell to Tanja as she left the 366th Security Forces Squadron kennels for the last time.

"She is a Belgian Malinois and has been in the program for almost 12 years," said Staff Sgt. Robert Wilson, 366th SFS military working dog handler. "She has deployed five times to various countries around the world and has been a definite asset during her military career."

Dogs have been used in warfare since the time of the ancient Egyptians and during the Roman Empire they wore armor and spiked collars.

"The dogs provide tremendous capabilities to military personnel by searching out explosives and narcotics as well as tracking down and apprehending individuals thereby ensuring the safety of base population both at home and overseas," Wilson said. "They enhance the capabilities of law enforcement personnel and our mission throughout the DOD."

Dogs and their handlers spend 24 hours-a-day together; they train, eat, sleep, and fight together.

"I am so glad I had the opportunity of working with her," Wilson said. "I never had any issues working with her and she was definitely the best dog I have ever had."

Wilson continued by relating a story from their deployment together.

"One time while we were deployed, she located explosive devices inside a third-country national vehicle," he said. "However, upon further search of the vehicle we found stolen classified documents hidden inside. In a round-about way she was able to alert us of potential explosives and keep extremely valuable classified information from being stolen."

Her last handler and new owner, Tech. Sgt. Roseann Kelly, 366th SFS assistant flight chief, had a similar story from their deployment together.

"We were performing multiple roles including base patrolling and determent," said Kelly. "She alerted on an individual who had jumped the fence and when we began moving toward him he decided to leave instead of deal with her. She is still kicking butt after all these years.

"These dogs act as a first line of defense against enemy threats because they can smell things and go places humans can't. Patrol work makes them fearless and they will attack if ordered to by their handlers."

Now that Tanja is retiring she has a new set of "challenges" ahead of her.

"I don't think she will have any problem adjusting to being a civilian since she's been preparing and practicing for house-dog life for years," laughed Kelly. "She loves to lounge around and play games like most dogs do. I love the military working dogs and am excited to adopt Tanja."

Kelly explained they had an unusual relationship for a MWD and handler.

"I actually babied her quite a bit and put sweaters on her because the veterinarian said as she got older her circulation wouldn't be as good," Kelly said. "I wanted to ensure she was cozy and warm during the cold winters. Of course, all the other handlers picked on us but I didn't care because she liked it."

Kelly wasn't the only former handler who treated Tanja different because of her unique personality.

"I could go on all day about Tanja because she is a terrific dog, and I consider it an honor to have been able to work with her," Wilson said. "I'm glad I will be able to see her retire and enjoy a normal life because she has earned it."

The transition into life as a normal dog will mean a little more work for both Tanja and Kelly.

"I will have to watch her when I take her places because of her age and the fact that she was a dual-purpose dog who did a lot of patrol work during her career," Kelly said. "I will mostly need to watch other people and how they are responding and reacting to her. Honestly, I doubt there will be any issues because of her good disposition."

That particular temperament is one of the main reasons she has been so popular with handlers throughout her service.

"She is such a warm-hearted and caring dog," Kelly said. "As old as she is she continues to have a fantastic personality and endless spunk. She has served her country and can now look forward to enjoying herself and relaxing. It's going to be interesting watching her adjust to eating snacks and taking naps like any other regular dog."

"Adopting military working dogs is such a fantastic service we provide to these veterans. All Tanja knows is service and she deserves a chance to enjoy a relaxing retirement now that it's complete -- just like any other service member."

JASON DAHLKE

Staff Sgt. Jason Sean Dahlke, 29, a native of Orlando, Fla., died during an attack by a Ranger task force on an enemy position, Aug. 29. He served in the Regiment for more than four years. He is survived by his wife Nikole M. Norvell Dahlke of Richmond Hill, Ga., father Roger Dahlke and step-mother Tessa Dahlke of Jacksonville, Fla., and mother Debra DeLaney. Sisters: Talia Dahlke, Taryn Funcheon, Donielle Graham, Kelsea Evans. He joins his brother Joshua Dahlke in a better place.

Jason’s personal awards included a Purple Heart and two Army Commendation Medals.

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, another Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Jason was an avid outdoorsman. He loved running, swimming, biking and basically anything outside that would get him dirty. The first adventure race he entered he won with his teammate Dominic Annecchini, a fellow ranger. The adventure race in Richmond Hill, GA was named in honor of Jason after he died. The Staff Sgt. Jason Dahlke Memorial Energy Adventure Challenge is an annual event that highlights Jason’s fun and adventurous spirit, while also honoring his military service.

http://jasondahlke.com/

Jason Dahlke