Brent and Rebel

The Team at the Roadside

When I joined the Marine Corps at the age of nineteen, I expected to meet new friends and make plenty of life memories with fellow Marines. All of that happened, but I never expected to become as close to one person as I did. He’s not your typical guy-friend; he was my military-issued friend named Rebel – my bomb dog for two years in the Marines. Dogs are man’s best friend; they love you no matter what and will put your own life before theirs every time.

During my last tour in Afghanistan. Rebel and I completed over 200 combat patrols in the Helmand Province near the Pakistani border. During patrols, Rebel would work off-leash no more than 100 yards away and no closer than 25 yards to me, searching the roads for IEDs used by the Taliban. During our time together, Rebel and I found two IED’s thereby preventing American lives from being lost. One day on a patrol, we stopped to reestablish communications with our patrol base. I was looking back at my buddy and laughing while we walked to paying attention. I turned back around and suddenly stopped. What I saw was Rebel lying down, giving his sign that he had found an IED, As I searched the area around me, I looked down next to my feet to see a pressure plate that would ignite the IED no more than 9 inches from my boot. I realize that my best friend, a stubborn Yellow Labrador Retriever, had just saved my life.

During my last day in Afghanistan with Rebel, we were at the veterinarian’s office doing his physical and she handed me adoption papers and said, “It’s a long chance that you will ever be able to adopt him, but it doesn’t hurt to fill out the paperwork.” A couple of weeks later, I received a Facebook message from a guy named Jake Coon, who told me that he worked at the Kennel, where Rebel was born and trained. So I searched the name of the kennel and contacted Kenny Fulks from Coyote Creek Retrievers in Eugene, Oregon. We talked for 30 minutes about Rebel and how much I loved him. I told Kenny how that I would probably never be able to adopt Rebel, so I asked him if he was breeding any litters that would be related to Rebel so that I at least would have something to remember him by besides pictures. He told me that yes, he was actually getting ready to breed Rebel’s’parents, Buck and Sadle again!

The Team in the Water

After 10 weeks of waiting, I was finally able to pick up my puppy from Mr. Fulks. I named the little guy Rowdy, and I was so excited to have him. Rowdy looked just like Rebel and even had the same stubbornness I had grown to love so much. During all this time, my parents had written a letter to Congressmen Posey about helping their son adopt his beloved bomb dog, Rebel. I got out of the Marines on October 11, 2012, and later received a call from the Head of the Department of Military Working Dogs to inform me that I had been approved to adopt Rebel. Not even a week later, I grabbed my bags and drove up to Virginia to pick up Rebel. It was the happiest day of my life, without a doubt. That winter, he was with me every time I went duck hunting, which he obviously enjoyed a lot more than searching for bombs.

These days, Rebel enjoys his retirement with his now 8-month-old little brother Rowdy and his best friend. There is no greater companionship than the one between man and dog. I’ve seen firsthand how a dog will put himself in harm’s way to protect his human because they love you more than life itself. I’m blessed to have these two great dogs in my life —two dogs who love me and don’t ever want anything in return apart from taking them hunting or playing fetch.

—Brent Cochran


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