By Debbie Gregory.
At 6:30 PM, on October 15, Newport, NH firefighters responded to a fire at the home of Skip and Rhonda Rollins. The couple was away, but their two dogs and two cats needed to be rescued from the blaze. One of the family’s dogs was found not breathing. Firefighters were able to revive the dog, using their own personal oxygen tanks, and send her to Claremont Animal Hospital. The rescued dog is named Hero, and she has a very interesting story to go with her interesting name.
Hero has been in the news for being rescued once before. When she was just a puppy in Samarra, Iraq, Hero and her siblings were found by Army Spec. Justin Rollins and some of his friends from the Army’s 82nd Airborne. There were pictures taken of Rollins with the puppies from that night. In the pictures, the battle-worn Rollins can be seen smiling, visibly delighted by the moment shared with the puppies.
Spec. Rollins was killed the next day by a roadside bomb explosion. The Rollins family saw the pictures of Justin with the puppies and knew that they needed to have one of the puppies that brightened their son’s last day on earth. The family contacted Cmdr. Griffin Dalianis, a civilian aide for the Secretary of the Army, who visits with families of soldiers killed in action after the casualty officer and chaplain meet with the family. Dalianis helped the family cut through the red tape. When the Rollins family received permission to have the dog sent to them, soldiers from Rollins’ unit went back to the litter, which by then had only a few puppies left. They remembered their fallen comrade playing specifically with Hero.
Hero has been with her American family since 2007. She has been a comfort to Rollins’ parents and his longtime girlfriend, Brittany Murray, who Rollins’ father said that his son was going to propose to when he came home. The loss of Hero would have been another crushing blow to this already devastated family.
It was miraculous that firefighters were able to revive Hero and save her life. Skip Rollins believes that his son had a part in it.
“There are just too many signs, to not know that he’s there, and he’s looking out for us,” Skip said. “And looking out for his dog.”
The firefighters were also able to save Justin’s medals, as well as the flag that was draped over his casket.
Hero was back to her old self the next day.