Working through contacts I managed to land an interview with the military working dog that accompanied the special operations forces during the raid on Osama bin Laden. The ground rules were that I could not mention his name or handler, but he told me to call him “Geronimo” because, as he explained, “Dogs appreciate irony.”
TWT: First let me congratulate you on the mission, the country is extremely proud of what you and the rest of the team accomplished.
Geronimo: Thank you.
TWT: I think a lot of Americans were surprised to learn a dog was along on the mission.
Geronimo: They shouldn’t be, military working dogs are serving all over the world, detecting IEDs, tracking down the enemy, we even get into some close quarters situations sometimes.
TWT: Like the raid on bin Laden in Abbottabad for example.
Geronimo: Yes, definitely. I can’t go into too much about what my role was in that mission but it was up close and personal for sure. Let me just say it’s going to take a lot of dog food to get the taste of that guy out of my mouth.
TWT: Was there anything you saw or sensed that the human members of the team might have missed?
Geronimo: Probably, I do a lot of work with scent trails. There were about six people in the house when we hit it but there was scent evidence of a lot more coming and going. I’d recognize them again if we came across them, just from the smell. And if you think there weren’t tracks leading towards that Pakistan military academy down the road, think again my friend.
TWT: Do you have anything to say about the way the White House handled the public relations regarding the takedown operation?
Geronimo: I try to stay out of politics. Chain of command, that sort of thing. Yet I can’t help but think the higher ups hosed it up. Just lots of loose talk, lots of ego from people who never risked their biscuit. Seriously, these politicos are trying to make like they are bulldogs but they are coming off like a yapping pack of poodles. We handed a brilliant tactical victory to these bichons and they really screwed the pooch.
TWT: Would you say you are a hero?
Geronimo: No, I was just doing my job, like everyone else. It’s what we are trained to do. There are dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places doing things at least as dangerous as the bin Laden mission if not more so. I have friends – well, had friends – over the years who didn’t make it back. You’ll never see their names on a wall. I keep hearing about a memorial planned for us but we’re happy to just get a pat on the head. And it’s better than it used to be, do you know that up until 2000 they used to euthanize us as “surplus equipment?” Stuff of nightmares, man.
TWT: Are you staying in the military?
Geronimo: Well I have thirty years in – that’s about four and a half in human years – so I could retire now with a nice pension, but I feel like I’d be letting my guys down. You know that old saying about “Man’s best friend?” Sounds corny, brother, but it’s true.