DES MOINES, Ia. — A Wisconsin Marine who fought in Afghanistan made the trip to Iowa to speak to state leaders Friday morning.
Sgt. Ross Gundlach had a very specific request; he wanted Iowa leaders to help him reunite with a friend he served with in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Gundlach was first asked to sit in on a special ceremony for Armed Services Day, at least that’s what he was told.
But he quickly realized the ceremony was for him.
“In case you haven`t figured it out you`re not really here to make an appeal for your dog we`ve already made that for you,” says Iowa State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds.
Reynolds went on to say, “What we would like to do is have Sgt. Williams reunite you with Casey.”
“The whole time he said it was an if situation, if you get your dog, maybe you`ll get your dog and out of nowhere the man who provided security for me in Afghanistan walks out with her, it was pretty overwhelming,” says Sgt. Ross Gundlach.
Casey served as a bomb detection dog in Afghanistan
When her tour with Sgt. Gundlach was over, she was reassigned and adopted by the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“It`s a little rough, it`s a little rough losing your dog after spending 24 hours a day with her. Like I said about mid-way through I promised her if we made it out alive, I’d do whatever it took to find her,” says Sgt. Gundlach.
Since last November, Casey has served Iowa by detecting explosives.
However, once the Fire Marshall’s Office found out Sgt. Gundlach was trying to adopt Casey they knew they had to send her home.
“The bond that exists between man and dog is very difficult to explain when you see it I mean that`s it right there,” says Mike Ritland who runs The Warrior Dog Foundation.
After 150 combat missions together, Sgt. Gundlach credits Casey for saving his life and several in his unit.
“I owe her, I want to take care of her but I owe her, so I’ll try and give her the best life she can have from here on out,” says Sgt. Gundlach.
Casey is family, like Sgt. Gundlach’s Dad who can’t express how grateful he is to the people who loved Casey so much, they were able to send her home to him.
“That`s his partner, he would wake up at night looking for her and now she`s back,” says Glen Gundlach, Sgt. Gundlach’s Father.
“She means a lot,” says Sgt. Gundlach.
The Iowa Elks Association donated the $8,500 needed to replace Casey, so the state could have a new bomb dog.
Sgt. Gundlach says he plans to return to Madison with Casey and will start classes as Madison College this summer.