“Megan Leavey”- A Tale of Two Heroes


Debbie Gregory.

A new film starring Kate Mara is sure to bring military supporters and animals lovers to local movie theaters.

Megan Leavey is the true story of Marine Megan Leavey and her four-legged German Shepherd, a bomb-sniffing canine named Rex.

Leavey, a former standout softball player during high school, tried college for a brief period before deciding to enlist in the Marines in 2003.

Leavey’s parents were less than thrilled with their daughter’s decision to enlist in the Marines. Bill and Ellyn Leavey tried to talk their only child out of it. Megan told them that she had to commit herself to something that she couldn’t quit, something that would help her see what she’s made of.

“September 11th is the main reason I joined,” she said.

Leavey had gone to Parris Island for basic training and enrolled to become part of the military police, applying to the K-9 unit, where she was partnered with Rex.

Leavey and the military bomb-sniffing dog Rex served two tours together. In 2005, they were deployed to Fallujah for seven months and then to Ramadi in 2006. It was during the second deployment that they were both badly injured by a makeshift explosive device.

Rex was wounded in the shoulder, and Leavey’s eardrum exploded. She also suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent nearly a year recovering and rehabilitating with Rex, eventually leaving the military when her commitment was up at the end of 2007.

In all, they served for nearly three years at each other’s side and completed more than 100 missions.

Leavey first sought to adopt Rex after the bomb blast. Later, when Rex developed facial palsy that ended his bomb-sniffing duties, Leavey petitioned the Marine Corps for his adoption. They were reunited in 2012 through the intervention of Senator Chuck Schumer.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

First American Killed in Syria Combat


By Debbie Gregory.

The first American servicemember to lose his life in Syria has been identified as 42-year-old sailor Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton.

Chief Dayton was assigned to a bomb-disposal unit based in Virginia Beach, and was killed by an improvised bomb in northern Syria. He was killed in Ayn Issa, a town halfway between Raqqa and the Turkish border.

Dayton was returned to the U.S. Sunday night in a dignified transfer at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base.

The U.S. has been in the region to assist in organizing an offensive against the Islamic State. American warplanes have been bombing targets inside Syria to aid tens of thousands of militia fighters as they try to expel the Islamic State from Raqqa.

More than 300 members of the United States Special Operations Forces are also in Syria to help recruit, train and advise the Kurdish and Arab fighters who are trying to retake the city.

Chief Dayton was serving with Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two.

Chief Dayton enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 17, 1993, and received 19 awards, including the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, seven Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy “E” Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, two Iraq Campaign Medals, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Dayton’s death is a reminder as to how volatile and deadly the campaign against ISIS is.

We at join a grateful nation in offering our deepest condolences and sympathies to Chief Dayton’s family, loved ones and friends.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Quadruple Amputee Marine Veteran Receives Double Arm Transplant


By Debbie Gregory.

During his first tour of duty, Retired Marine Sgt. John Peck suffered a traumatic brain injury. But in a subsequent tour in 2010, Peck’s life completely changed.

During that second tour, Peck stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, which triggered a blast that caused him to lose his arms and legs.

After losing his limbs, Peck was equipped with prosthetic arms and a wheelchair. However, in 2014, he was approved to undergo a double arm transplant, in which he would receive real arms from another young man — a man who died.

In August, the 31-year-old veteran underwent a bilateral arm transplant. The 13-hour surgery was performed by a team headed by Simon G. Talbot, Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s director of upper extremity transplantation.

His donor’s arms were surgically connected to Peck’s body near his elbows, which doctors say will allow him to eventually feel, grasp and hold in a way that prosthetics couldn’t.

“My dream job since I was 12 was to be a chef, and because of my donor’s gift, I actually have a fighting chance to do this,” Peck said. “As a result of this surgery, I’ll be able to pursue my dreams.”

Although Peck had significant out-of-pocket expenses, a spokeswoman for Brigham and Women’s said the hospital covered the cost of the surgery, and the physicians volunteered their time.

Of his donor, Peck said, “I will love him every day and will respect his life and this gift until the day I die.” To his donor’s family, Peck said, “Your loved one’s death will not be for nothing. Every day that I look down at our new arms, I will drive on . . . and I will never give up. I will remember his selflessness and his gift until the day I die.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Bomb Sniffing Drones- Game Changer in Fight Against Terrorism?

bomb sniffer

By Debbie Gregory.

In what could potentially be really good news in fighting terrorism and really bad news for terrorists, researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison have developed drones that can detect improvised explosive devices and active land mines.

The technology can detect chemical and nuclear weapons and drugs. Robot drones can be used for combat, decoys, reconnaissance, logistics, research and development. Because of these several uses, and the several shapes and sizes drones come in these days, they may be considered the “bomb sniffing” robots of the sky.

The centerpiece of the system is a device that paints a target area with neutrons. Then sensors look for gamma rays with the signatures of specific materials such as explosives or a nuclear device. It’s the same technology used at security checkpoints to scan luggage and shipping containers in airports, but the breakthrough for the UW-Madison scientists was making the radiation source small enough to mount on a drone.

This technology would allow military convoys to be alerted to roadside bombs. Rescuers could dig directly toward people buried by earthquake rubble. Valuable mineral deposits could be mapped.

Jerry Kulcinski, an internationally renowned scientist and longtime adviser for NASA, believes it’ll take about a year to get the system into the field — if they can find a company to buy it or fund it to completion.

Col. John W. Weidner, who helps manage of the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, , envisioned scenarios where the United Nations would use the drones in Syria after hostilities end there to verify whether all its chemical weapons were destroyed, or in Iran to determine whether that country is making nuclear weapons.

“I see all sorts of different opportunities if this can be adopted by the appropriate agencies in our government,” he said. “Intelligence agencies could find in a relatively passive, relatively quiet, no-person way what materials are in particular locations. That could be very powerful to them.”

The technology is also very cost-effective. Instead of spending money for expensive tracked vehicles that roll up to a suspicious package, identify and maybe detonate it, military and police agencies “can fly a drone over it, irradiate it and find out it’s full of flour,” said Weidner.

Because the breakthrough was so recent, there has been little time for critical assessment of the technology.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.