Purple Heart recipient is reunited with military K-9 after 3 years

June 24, 2013

Former Lance Corporal Bradley O’Keefe had been searching for Earl for three years. Ever since he and Earl had been injured by an IED explosion, Brad has wanted nothing more than to have the dog who saved his life by his side again. On June 21, they were reunited.

Brad and Earl were among a 13-strong U.S. Marine 3/6 Lima unit crossing a bridge in Afghanistan when Earl detected an explosive device several feet ahead. Earl’s tail shot out, and Brad knew his dog had detected an IED.

Unfortunately, a hidden enemy was able to press the detonator before Brad and Earl were able to move away. Both were injured at six feet from the bomb.

Brad suffered severe injuries, including a concussion, a shattered tibia, and severe injuries to both legs caused by shrapnel. Earl suffered shrapnel wounds but was able to return to duty after being treated.

Brad still credits Earl for saving his life, as well as the lives of his entire unit. In an interview with WHAM13 Brad said

“If we just kept going, who knows what the casualties would have been.”

After the military downsized it’s K-9 corps, Earl was transferred back to the U.S. and eventually ended up working for the Rhode Island State Police. Brad is employed as a machinist in the Rochester, NY area where he was raised.

Brad credits his step-sister Rachel Lawson with bringing him and his former K-9 partner back together. Rachel started a Facebook page back in May asking for anyone with information on Earl to contact her. She found the dog within days.

After a lot of work on Rachel’s part, Earl and Brad were reunited during a ceremony on June 21 at the Rhode Island State Police headquarters. Brad received a Purple Heart for injuries he received in Afghanistan. But the best award he received was being able to take Earl home forever.

By Saturday, June 22, Earl was settling into his new forever home with his best friend. They have a lot to catch up on. Toys to buy Earl, trips to the lake, and long naps on a soft bed.

Congratulations, Brad and Earl. You have both served your country well. Enjoy your new lives together.

UPDATE: Lance Cpl Bradley O’Keefe and his unit were with the USMC. WHAM got the branch of the military wrong-per Rachel Lawson (Brad’s sister).





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