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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A decorated Iraq War veteran will be remembered during a memorial service tomorrow, with complete military honors. The Marine Corp Sgt. is credited for saving countless lives, even though she stood on four legs not two.
"I told her it would be alright that I'd see her one day again and that it would be ok," says Joe Kelly Sturm.
Sgt. Beyco's last handler spoke with WDRB at Veteran's Park in Jefferstontown.
He and his beloved German Shepherd spent many nights here walking the trails. The streets Beyco spent her military career on were far less safe.
"More firefight combat in the first more searching for explosives in the second," says Sturm.
The Iraq War vet served two tours from 2005 to 2008. She logged 3,200 combat search hours, sniffed out 6 IEDs and found 6 armed insurgents, one wearing a suicide vest hiding in a canal.
"She was a soldier, a K-9 soldier a marine and a hero," he says.
In 2011 it was time for her to retire. Sturm stumbled upon a Facebook message and the next thing he knew he was driving her home from North Carolina.
"She became a normal dog probably 6 months, 7 months and she realized she didn't have to work anymore," says Sturm.
The pair spent 19 months together. They traveled with the Patriot Guard, paying tribute to fallen heroes, like Bardstown Police Officer, Jason Ellis. Beyco had the ability to offer comfort during times of grief. On June 17th she lost a battle she could not win.
"I had no clue what was going to happen that day. That I'd go to the vet and by 9:30 I'd be covering her with the American flag and kissing her, saluting her," he says.
Cancer had spread through her body.
"She was alive and on the table so hopefully she heard me," says Sturm.
Joe Sturm, is keeping Beyco's remains close.
"She'll rest with me," he says.
Finally rest, for a tireless servant. Not just a military dog, but a Marine till the very end.
"She's worthy of and deserving of as a Marine and a K-9 veteran of the United States of America," he says.