Jimmy, a 10 year-old Belgian Malinois who had worked with Italian troops in Afghanistan and Kosovo since 2008, died a few days ago from a sudden illness.He took part in military operations in the East, and was in Lebanon for his last mission before retirement when he died.He was searching a convey which had come into the Shama base in Lebanon, which is run by Italian troops.He had been working with the Italian military for 10 years, and is regarded as a hero throughout Italy.[caption id="attachment_44759" align="alignnone" width="573"]
Jimmy during a search. Source: Italian Ministry of Defence[/caption]Lance Corporal Daniele rushed to Jimmy's side upon seeing him fall ill and military vets were called out, but nothing could be done to help and he sadly passed away.Lance Corporal Daniele, who worked with Jimmy and cared for him throughout the dog's time with the army, was preparing to adopt Jimmy after his retirement. Daniele said:
Now, without Jimmy, I feel alone. I'll never forget him. We were together 24/7. I would talk to him like I'm talking to you now and he understood me perfectly. When I got married in 2011, Jimmy carried our wedding rings to the altar. He was part of the family.
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Jimmy at Shama in Lebanon. Source: Italian Ministry of Defence[/caption]Jimmy grew up in the army, surrounded by guns and explosives.In Afghanistan, near Farah, he saved a patrol of Italian soldiers who were searching the area.Having been trained since he was a puppy, he was able to sniff out an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) planted by rebels which would have exploded as the convoy passed over it.Jimmy prevented them from doing so by sitting in the middle of the road, thus stopping them from moving forward and letting them know that they were in danger.This anecdote is just one of many of Jimmy's heroic acts.Chosen when he was still a puppy, Jimmy was trained at the Grosseto Military Base in Northern Italy.The Italian miliary explained the training process in a statement:
Throughout the training, the animal, as well as establishing a close bond with its commander through playing and specialised training, learns to alert people to the presence of explosives.
After spending so many years at the camp, shared experiences lead more and more commanders to adopt their four-legged colleagues when it is time for them to retire, as would have been the case for Jimmy.[caption id="attachment_44762" align="alignnone" width="694"]
Source: Italian Ministry of Defence[/caption]In an official statement, the Italian Ministry of Defence paid homage to a true hero, as well as to all the other animals that work to help the military:
Over the years, the employment of dogs in military units has become fundamental in protecting troops from IEDs, one of the most insidious threats to our soldiers operating around the world.
The loss of a hero like Jimmy is felt throughout the ranks of the army, who all know how much they depend on their four-legged colleagues to get home safely.
Via: La Stampa/Ministero Della Difesa