The guest of honor for this year’s Weatherford College Veterans Day Program was deployed five times to Afghanistan and Iraq. He located more than 50 bombs during his last year oversees and is credited with saving 3,000 lives.
Corporal Max N242 is a bomb-sniffing Labrador Retriever who now lives a life of relaxation in Parker County at the home of John and Julia Park. Their son, Marine Capt. Jeffrey Park, adopted the dog once Max’s days of service were completed, but his parents continue to care for Max while their son is active in the military.
The community is invited to meet Max during the 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, program at the Kramer Flag Plaza on the WC campus.
Weatherford College student and Marine Veteran Scott Butler knows first-hand the importance of bomb-sniffing dogs.
Butler served four years in the Marine Corps and was injured while deployed to Afghanistan. He has a tattoo on his leg to remind him of that day.
Explaining the tattoo he points to the image of a Lab named Tar who was on patrol with him and another Marine. Tar laid down an IED, set it off and took all the shrapnel from the explosion while protecting Butler and the other soldier.
“I woke up in the hospital with no physical damage,” Butler said. “My buddy lost his right eye and 14 teeth. But we’re both still here, and I give thanks to the dog.”
John Park is an advocate of these service dogs who often go unnoticed, especially since Max saved his son’s life on three different occasions. Park is also a supporter of the Military Working Dog Retirement Act of 2015 that would recognize these military dogs as personnel and not equipment as they are currently categorized.
“It would change history,” Park said. “If Max had been retired in Germany or Afghanistan he would have just been left there… There were over 4,000 dogs in Vietnam when we pulled out there. People don’t realize that.”
An unfortunate event led to Max’s medical retirement while in the United States. Max and another Lab, Ace, were sent to Arizona for training before heading back to Afghanistan. The dogs were left in a hot trailer without water. Ace died. Max suffered a heat stroke and was ultimately taken out of commission.
Capt. Jeffery Park had already put his name down to adopt Max when his time in the service was complete. And had the dog reached retirement while oversees, Park would have been responsible for paying thousands of dollars in fees to adopt and ship Max back to Texas.
“Jeff said Max had saved his life three times, and he wanted to save Max this time,” Park said.
Max has since become quite the celebrity appearing in multiple newspapers and magazines including the Oct. 19, 2015, issue of People magazine.
The Veterans Day program will also include music from the WC Jazz Band under the direction of Cal Lewiston beginning at 10:30 a.m. and the WC Choir, directed by Rob Laney, will sing the Star Spangled Banner.
Doug Jefferson, WC Executive Director of Student Development, will perform America The Beautiful; Hunter Burt will play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes; and Sonny Burgess will perform God Bless the USA.
WC student and veteran Jason Avelson will read I Am Old Glory as the United States Flag posted at the start of the ceremony is taken down and formally retired at the end of the program.