31-year-old U.S. veteran Byung “BK” Kang and his dog Blue are more than family. From 2011-2012, Kang and Blue served together on over 300 combat missions with the United States Marine Corps on a deployment to Afghanistan. It wasn’t until 2018 they became official family members though.
Since their tour together, Kang never stopped thinking about Blue and all she had done for him. Military dogs face the same trials and perils as human marines on the battlefield. But they have special skills that humans don’t, and they use them to save lives. These dogs deserve some praise and a lot of love after their service. That’s what Kang wanted to do for Blue, and eventually, he got that chance.
Detecting Explosives & Saving Lives
Blue is a military dog trained to detect IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices.) She’s so good at that job, she found one on their very first mission together. Kang told Today he respected her from that day on.
“That IED could have taken a couple of our guys out. So from there, Blue started getting trust and the respect of my platoon.”
Kang faced dangerous explosions every day on his first tour. On his second tour, Kang volunteered to be an IED detection dog handler. He paired up with Blue.
As her handler, Kang read her body language to determine when she wanted to investigate a possible IED. Then, she’d run ahead to inspect and lie down if she did detect an explosive. Her reward for a job well done? Playing with a toy.
A talented detection dog, Blue served an extremely vital function as a member of the squad. She saved lives for seven years.
“Since we knew Blue is effective, it was almost impossible for a squad or a platoon to go out without Blue. Sometimes we went on three patrols per day and by the time we’d get back we’re all exhausted because we’ve been walking miles and miles in over a hundred degrees of heat in Afghanistan. So we did our best. Every chance, we tried to go out to possibly save the Marines and sailors.”
A Promise To A Fellow Soldier: Adoption
Kang made a vow to Blue one day. He would try his hardest to make up for all the times she saved his and his comrades’ lives.
“I told her, ‘What you’ve done for me and my guys over here in Afghanistan, we cannot pay back. So I’m going to give you a good home where you can cuddle all day, not worrying about going to war and finding bombs.’”
After their tour, Blue was transferred elsewhere and Kang lost track of her. He didn’t, however, forget his promise to her.
Wendy Kang, BK’s wife, knew he wanted to find and adopt Blue. She’s a former marine herself, and used her connections to locate Blue in Japan. She had to help their dreams come true.
“I did everything in my power to make sure that we could get Blue home. After all the stories I’ve heard, I know for sure Blue is one of the reasons why BK is standing here with me and he’s alive.”
In November of 2018, Blue retired from the service and went to live with her new forever family: the family of her old Marine pal!
A Peaceful Yet Productive Retirement For Blue
Blue now lives in Georgia with 5 dogs, 2 cats, 2 small humans, and 2 human parents. Kang kept his promise to her of a life of snuggles.
Blue’s been busy too though. She recently became a semifinalist for American Humane’s 2020 Military Hero Dog Award. Kang penned a beautiful tribute to her for the voting page.
“After seven years of honorable service, she retired in November 2018 and made her way from Japan to Georgia. She’s been enjoying her retirement with my family and I ever since. Blue is our own personal hero and deserves to be recognized as one in her life.”
Blue bravely served her country just like any human veteran. Now she’s finally getting recognized for who she is: a hero.
“These working dogs, they will give up their life for us. So we should be thankful to them and respect them and above all, trust the dog because dogs will not lie.”
Enjoy your well-deserved retirement, hero Blue!