A Weatherford, TX, couple want to bring awareness. And that desire was inspired by the Marine who saved their son’s life — a Marine with four legs.
“It’s a debt that can never be repaid,” Julia Park told ABC affiliate WFAA. “It is a debt of gratitude for an appreciation for what he’s done.”
The hero they salute, Corporal Max, served with her son, Marine Captain Jeff Park, in Afghanistan. Without Max, she and husband John say, their son may have died in battle.
“Jeff will admit, he says, ‘I know for a fact that Max has saved my life at least three times,’” Julia said.
Corporal Max is a Labrador; he was assigned to Jeff’s unit in 2011. His job was to go ahead of the unit and search for explosives.
“He was able to save their lives,” John said.
Without Max’s work, thousands of soldiers would have never made it home.
“He’s one of the unsung heroes,” Julia said.
It’s one of the most dangerous jobs of war, but John and Julia say military dogs like Max are often forgotten.
In the past, military dogs were often left behind in whatever country they were serving. Max was set to return to Afghanistan in late 2011, when he suffered a massive heat stroke in Arizona.
He survived, but the incident led to his honorable discharge and retirement; however, he still needed a place to convalesce and eventually — a forever home.
“When the tables were turned, Jeff said, ‘He saved my life. I’m saving his,’” Julia said.
Jeff adopted Max and welcomed him home. Today, Max is healthy and lives in Weatherford, while Jeff continues to serve. And Jeff’s parents, John and Julia, work to make sure dogs like Max get the recognition they deserve.
“The fact that these dogs will step out and put their life on the line and help them get back to loved ones is very important to me,” John said.
This Memorial Day, John and Julia say they will remember the thousands of lives lost in battle and be thankful, that because of Max, there’s not one more.