K9 service members are an important part of many Military and First Responder teams. They bond deeply with their handlers and for good reason.
One such K9 had the honor of working with the Navy SEAL team during Operation Neptune Spear, which led to American vengeance on the Taliban over 9/11.
Navy SEAL Will Chesney became a SEAL canine handler in 2008 and was paired up with Cairo, a top performing Belgian Malinois. Chesney and Cairo worked hard in the teams and formed a close bond over the following years.
"A military working dog must be a fighter first and foremost. We have a saying, 'Dogs have a switch on or off mode', [so when you] put their vest on, they know they’re working, turn it off, they’re playful. You could turn it off, [and] Cairo was a family dog."Will Chesney to We Are The Mighty
Chesney often spoke of Cairo's incredible discipline. One time, his girlfriend's mom showed up with a bulldog who attacked Cairo. Despite being injured by the bulldog, Cairo refused to retaliate because Chesney hadn't given the command.
Cairo was so well trained that he knew if his vest wasn't on and there was no command, his job was to wait.
In 2009, Cairo was shot in a battle with Taliban insurgents. Chesney said he remembers seeing Cairo drop while on the operation. He thought his furry partner was dead but pushed forward with the mission until he could reach him.
Chesney got Cairo to safety and the team medic jumped in to help. They were able to stabilize Cairo and get him back to base for treatment.
Though Cairo was never slated for redeployment, he and Chesney went to Pakistan on May 2, 2011, with the two dozen Navy Seals as a part of Operation Neptune Spear.
It was an operation that would go down in history.
Operation Neptune Spear
Operation Neptune Spear was a strategic mission to track down and capture Osama bin Laden, whose code name as "Geronimo". Chesney said it was just like any other mission at first, though nervous tension ran high.
“We conducted a little more training than normal, we’re always conducting training, being prepared for anything. We knew that the stakes were higher and there was definitely a lot more energy, because of who we were going after.Will Chesney
As we all know, the operation was a success and the infamous Taliban leader was taken down. While the entire SEAL team received Silver Star's for valor, Cairo was not eligible.
We think this was an oversight, because we all know the best boy on the mission really was the canine member.
In 2013, Chesney deployed without Cairo for another deployment. This time he suffered a traumatic brain injury, suffered PTSD, and could not deploy again. Chesney was in a really bad place without his best friend and partner.
Thankfully, Cairo became eligible for adoption and Chesney leapt at the chance.
Chesney went on to write a fantastic book titled No Ordinary Dog about Cairo, their work, and Chesney's mental health struggles. He thought it was important to get the factual story of Cairo on paper and possibly help other veterans struggling with similar issues.