|Death: ||Mar. 1, 2011|
Arms and Explosives Search (AES) dog
Theo and LCpl Liam Tasker, an Arms and Explosives Search dog handler of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, were part of the Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit (TMWDSU) based at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
The pair were a formidable duo having uncovered 14 home-made bombs and numerous arms caches in just five months, a record for working dog and handler. On one occasion, Theo found an underground tunnel leading to a room in which insurgents were suspected of making bombs and hiding from coalition forces. Theo's six-month deployment was extended by a month due to his acclaimed work.
LCpl Tasker was killed by enemy small arms fire while on patrol with Theo in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. Traumatised by the gunfire, Theo on return to Camp Bastion suffered a seizure and died. Many of their colleagues believe Theo died of a broken heart.
A 22-month-old springer spaniel cross, Theo was donated to the army by a previous owner. Spaniels make exceptional search animals. They are intelligent, have boundless energy and possess an acute sense of smell, enabling them to detect some 19,000 blends of explosive. Military dogs are trained at the Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.
Before his first tour of duty to Afghanistan, Theo had to undergo a rigorous period of training to ensure he would meet the highest standards expected of the dogs in the TMWDSU. The first stage was 16 weeks basic training and assessment before being given to a handler. Theo and LCpl Tasker then spent 15 weeks on a handlers' course, where man and dog learn to work as a team.
LCpl Tasker said, "I love my job and working together with Theo. He has a great character and never tires. He can't wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing."
Theo's ashes were flown to RAF Lyneham on the March 10, 2011 repatriation flight of LCpl Tasker's coffin. The casket containing Theo's ashes was handed over to their unit, the 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, and later presented to LCpl Tasker's family.
Theo was nominated for the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded to animals displaying conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the UK Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units. It is known as the animals' Victoria Cross.
On October 25, 2012, the Dickin Medal was posthumously awarded to Theo and accepted on his behalf by Sgt Matthew Jones, who served alongside LCpl Tasker, and search dog Grace. LCpl Tasker's family will receive a replica medal. Theo's citation said his actions "undoubtedly saved the lives of coalition soldiers and civilians".
*Sincere thanks to Sherri for her generous sponsorship of both memorials.
Thank you to all for your flowers and notes.
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Created by: Milou
Record added: Mar 06, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 66547953