Nightly News   |  June 25, 2013

US Marine reunited with dog that saved his life

Lance Cpl. Brad O’Keefe, a Marine who served in Afghanistan, bonded with bomb-sniffing dog Earl during his deployment. But when O’Keefe was wounded, the two eventually became separated – until his sister and a Rhode Island trooper brought them together again. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, a story about the partnerships that are forged while fighting overseas between those in uniform and then some. we have a reunion story tonight about a u.s. marine and the dog that saved his life on a very bad day in afghanistan. here's nbc's kristen dahlgren.

>> reporter: they say the bonds of war are unbreakable. for lance corporal braddock and his working dog , it was beyond man's best friend.

>> he would wake me up at 6:00 in the morning to make sure i fed him. and he went out on patrol with me every day.

>> reporter: in 2010 , the two were on patrol in afghanistan, when the bomb sniffing dog alerted.

>> by the time he was able to locate where it was, the insurgent pushed a button and blew us up.

>> reporter: o'keefe was injured badly, but earl's warning saved him and the 13 men in his unit.

>> i kept asking, where earl was.

>> reporter: he waited right next to his master's gear, but o'keefe didn't come back. he would undergo seven surgeries, never forgetting the dog who saved his life.

>> keeping him in my memory was one way to honor him and keep him close.

>> reporter: o'keefe's sister rachel made it her mission to track down the hero dog.

>> it was what i wanted to do for brad. bring it full circle , have him reunited with his dog.

>> reporter: she turned to facebook and users from around the world helped her figure out that earl had left the military.

>> get to work.

>> reporter: and ended up with the rhode island state police . where he worked the boston bombings and had a new master.

>> i knew what had to be done as soon as she told me the story, i knew.

>> an honor.

>> reporter: it wasn't easy, maddox loved earl too, but he knew the marine needed him more.

>> it's kind of like filling a hole that's been there. earl is now retired and back home with o'keefe.

>> i'm so glad we were able to do it.

>> reporter: a story of love and sacrifice. and the bond that seems as strong as ever.

>> good boy, earl.

>> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york.