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On August 6, 2011, valiant Navy SEAL, Jon Tumilson, died serving his country. He was only 35 years old, one of 22 SEALs of the 30 Americans killed in Afghanistan on August 6 by a rocket-propelled grenade. Taliban insurgents took “credit” for the attack. The aggressors destroyed a U.S. Chinook helicopter. He was mourned by 1,500 people at his funeral—and his devoted dog, Hawkeye.
The Labrador retriever meant so much to Tumilson, that friends and family of the San Diego resident called the dog his “son.” When the fallen SEAL’s friend, Scott Nichols, walked to the front of the room eulogize Tumilson, Hawkeye followed. The dog came came to the front of the room, sighed, and, as Today.com reports, Hawkeye dutifully laid down near the casket. Hawkeye’s dedication and bond with his dad was so deep, The loyal dog laid down by the casket of his dad and stood guard during the entire service.
At Tumilson’s funeral in Rockford, Illinois, on August 19, his cousin, Lisa Pembleton, took the heart-wrenching photo of the devoted dog. I took this picture and that was my view throughout the entire funeral. I couldn’t NOT take a picture. It took several attempts since every time I wasn’t crying and could focus on taking it, there was a SEAL at the microphone and I didn’t want to take a picture with them for security and respect reasons. Our family is devastated to say the least.
More than 50 SEALs attended the funeral. Although the funeral was taped, the video was shot in audio, so as not to disclose the identity of the SEALs.
From a young age, J.T. wanted nothing more than to be a SEAL. I didn’t realize the depth of his desire until I stepped into his bedroom at his parent’s house for the first time. His room was a shrine… pictures, paintings, books, and videos all related to being a Navy SEAL, said an attendee at Tumilson’s eulogy.
Tumilson graduated from Recruit Training Command in September 1995, and completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School, in April 2002. He served in five Special Warfare units. Petty Officer Tumilson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Defense Meritorious Service Medal. His other awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, and Rifle Expert and Pistol Expert Medals.
He deployed on multiple deployments to include Afghanistan and Iraq.
Concerned members of the public who have seen the heart-wrenching photo will be pleased to hear that there is a happy ending for Hawkeye. Tumilson’s friend, Scott Nichols, who looked after Hawkeye while the brave Navy SEAL served in Afghanistan, is now stepfather to the grieving dog, Hawkeye.