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October 09, 2019 2 min read

20 year-old Corporal Kory Duane Wiens followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and namesake, a military canine handler during the Korean War, when he became a member of the 94th Mine Dog Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade, serving in Iraq in 2007. Wiens’ canine comrade was a yellow Lab named Cooper, and they formed a closely bonded team. They worked together to find firearms, ammunition and explosives. While on patrol in Muhammad Sath, Iraq on July 6th, 2007, Wiens and Cooper were killed by an improvised explosive device. Their remains were buried together in Wiens’ hometown of Dallas, OR.

U.S. Army Spc. Kory Wiens and his military working canine Cooper take a break after searching a house for weapons and homemade explosives in Arab Jabour, southern Baghdad, Iraq, during operations June 29, 2007. (U.S Army photo by Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi) www.army.mil

We learned about Wiens and Cooper from author Maria Goodavage, who wrote about the pair in her book Top Dog. She told us that Wiens always said Cooper was “his son,” and planned on adopting him after they completed their service. Recently, Wiens’ dad Kevin started adopting dogs, yellow Labs, to remind him of his son and his dog. One of these dogs had a litter, which he deemed “Kory Wiens and Cooper memorial dogs.” Goodavage adopted one of the puppies, named Gus, and another, Murray, went home with the family of Lucca, a retired military working dog who served with Wiens and Cooper in Iraq. “Gus is a Kory Wiens and Cooper memorial dog and he tries to wear it proudly,” said Goodavage. “I tell Kory’s story briefly when people ask so people know what the sacrifices were.”

Again, thank you to all of the men and women – and animals – who served our country so bravely. We salute you.

PHOTO CREDIT: Cooper: U.S Army photo by Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi via The U.S. Army Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0.