Earlier today, during the Warrior Expo setup day, Chief Steve Bronson and Axl Rose, his Dutch Shepard Pitbull presented Wounded Warrior Brad Lang with his new service animal, Diego, on behalf of the EOD Warrior Foundation.
A Wounded Warrior, Brad Lang retired from the Marine Corps as an EOD SSgt after receiving graves wounds on July 24th, 2011 in the Sangin River Valley in Helmland Province. He recovered and nowadays, Brad keeps his head in the game by running Stumpy’s Custom Guns, Inc. in Swansboro, NC along with Johnny Morris who also lost a leg as a Marine EOD NCO. They named the shop “Stumpies” because they’ve got one good leg between the two of them. They also employ other Wounded Warriors.
Diego is a two year old Belgian Malanois. He’s undergone seven months of training for his new assignment as Brad’s service dog. Steve Bronson has really brought Diego a long way over that time.
This is a reunion for Brad and Diego. They last saw each other during SHOT Show in January. Brad had Diego initially for about four months and then he turned him over to BMC Bronson (USN, Ret) to train him as a service dog. Diego has been learning how to recover Brad’s chair, assist with handicapped doors and crosswalks as well as regular doors. Most of all, Diego will be someone to, in Brad’s own words, “watch my Six.”
EOD Warrior Foundation has paid for the entire training process. Everything from food to vet bills to training. They even purchased a Jog-a-Dog treadmill for Diego so that he can work off his excess energy. I spoke with EOD Warrior Foundation Founder and Chairman of the Board BMCM Ken Falke (EOD) (USN, Ret). He said, “We’re honored to be able to sponsor Diego’s training in order to make a difference in Brad’s life. We’re also grateful to Chief Bronson for his time and patience training Diego.”
Diego and Brad have one more challenge to surmount. Diego will be taking a public access test to assess his abilities to work with Brad in a public setting. Based on what I saw today, they’ll do just fine.