Dozens turn out for memorial service for Marine service dog
LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- More than 150 people clutched tissues, wiped tears away and saluted a former Marine Sunday during a memorial service for Sgt. Beyco, a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd who won over hearts as a combat canine and consoler for those who lost loved ones.
"Not only was she a Marine but she was patriot guard member and a friend," said Danny Valentine, fighting back tears. "For those who didn't know Beyco, you really missed out. She was a fine lady."
Beyco died on June 18th after her handler, Joe Sturm, took her to the vet and discovered she had cancer. Beyco's last work as an honor service dog included attending the funeral service for fallen Bardstown police officer Jason Ellis.
Her memorial service Sunday at the Middletown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1170 included a motorcycle motorcade, a 21-gun salute and a number of veterans and their family members gathered inside to pay their last respects to the dog.
While members of the Kentucky Patriot Guard are guided by tradition, there is no law, lesson or guidance on how to say goodbye to friend. Sometimes finding the words can be a struggle -especially for a fallen comrade who stood on four legs instead of two.
"It's building in me right now I'm fighting it bad, man," said Sturm fighting back his emotions. "You know Beyco was one of us. She stood in flag line with us and everybody here is going to miss her."
Before Beyco's retirement allowed her to comfort families as part of the Kentucky Patriot Guard, she was at the tip of the spear -- a bomb-sniffing dog assigned to a Marine platoon in Fallujah during the height of the Iraq war in 2005 and 2006.
"You know I'm just so proud of her... I don't want to get emotional," said Sturm. "I can't tell you how overwhelmed and honored I am for her. I'm so proud of her."
Few dry eyes could be found among the 150 people attending Beyco's memorial service at the Middletown VFW Post.
If you've ever owned a dog, felt its companionship, you can understand the tears here and Joe's struggle to make eye contact with the camera.
"It's hard to explain, you'd have to been around Beyco everybody here felt that magic from Beyco," said Sturm.
Speakers at the memorial service noted Beyco's love for attention, how it earned her both friends and military honors from those who stand on two legs instead of four.
Sturm says Beyco's ashes will remain with him.