The United States Marine Corps., is releasing “Jazz”, one of the first recruits of the IED K9 program into civilian life after four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jazz, a black female Field Labrador Retriever is being released into the care of her former handler, Wesley Drent. Drent teamed with Jazz in Afghanistan where injuries and deaths related to IED (improvised explosive device) dropped 90 percent, owing to Jazz’s training and deployment in forward operating positions with Drent.
Jazz arrives at SeaTac on Feb. 22 and will spend the rest of her days in Gig Harbor.
“Jazz and I were the forward of the forward deployment. We had to search roads and specific villages and structures before the rest of the platoon could enter an area and identify and clear the area of ieds,” said Drent. “We raided one compound and found wanted posters for Jazz and me from the Taliban. The fact that they were willing to put money on her head demonstrates her effectiveness.”
Though neither Drent or Jazz were wounded in Afghanistan many other dogs and their handlers were killed by snipers specifically targeting the bomb sniffing dogs and their handlers and others were blown up by bobby traps set to catch them.
“Sometimes the Taliban would put the charge plate away from the bomb and make it out of wood to trick the dog. The dog would find a bomb, and when the handler came to check it out he would inadvertently step on the plate and detonate the IED. This dog has saved a lot of lives, and I am very honored that the USMC is giving her to me for her retirement. We live on the beach with lots of fields around us, so she will really enjoy herself,” said Drent. “She finally gets to be a dog.”
For her efforts in saving American lives as well as those of our allies Jazz was put forward to receive a Presidential citation. Drent was recently accepted into the University of Washington in Seattle.