Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 25, 2011

What Will Hawkeye Do With His Master Gone?

Several weeks ago, we lost 30 warriors in one helicopter crash, 22 of them SEALs. I can’t move beyond that for the moment. I don’t want to imagine what they thought those last seconds, how America will move forward without them.

I’m not alone in this sense of desolation over such a massive loss. One SEAL’s funeral was attended by hundreds, but one in particular will never be the same after the loss of his master. Read this story:

Loyal to the end: Heart-breaking photo shows Navy SEAL’s devoted dog guarding his coffin

  • Petty Officer Jon Tumilson killed in Afghanistan crash
  • Navy SEAL was one of 38 shot down in helicopter
  • Labrador retriever Hawkeye was at emotional service

By Mark Duell

This heart-wrenching photo shows how a Navy SEAL’s dog refused to leave his master’s side during an emotional funeral. Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, 35, killed in the major U.S. helicopter crash in Afghanistan this month, was remembered by around 1,500 mourners.  But it was his Labrador retriever Hawkeye that really captured the public’s emotions in the photo taken by Mr Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton.

Sadness: Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson's Labrador retriever Hawkeye was loyal to the end, as he refused to leave his master's side during an emotional funeral
Sadness: Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson’s Labrador retriever Hawkeye was loyal to the end, as he refused to leave his master’s side during an emotional funeral
 Man's best friend: Mr Tumilson's family members followed Hawkeye into the service before he lay down
Man’s best friend: Mr Tumilson’s family members followed Hawkeye into the service before he lay down

Nikki Virgilio, a friend of Mr Tumilson (known as J.T.) who was at the funeral, said Hawkeye was a personal pet rather than a military dog. ‘I can happily report to you that Hawkeye was willed to one of J.T.’s good friends, the same one that took care of him whenever J.T. was deployed overseas,’ she wrote on Facebook. ‘So he is assuredly in a loving home. J.T. was an amazing being and his dog is no different.’ His funeral was held on Friday in his hometown of Rockford, Iowa, at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School. Ms Pembleton said: ‘I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn’t make it or couldn’t see what I could from the aisle. ‘To say that he was an amazing man doesn’t do him justice. The loss of Jon to his family, military family and friends is immeasurable.’ During the service, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Robert Bradshaw told Mr Tumilson’s parents that they helped raise an ‘outstanding man – a hero’.

 Big funeral: Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, 35, killed in the Afghanistan helicopter crash this month, was remembered by around 1,500 mourners
Big funeral: Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, 35, killed in the Afghanistan helicopter crash this month, was remembered by around 1,500 mourners

Pride: Mr Tumilson's mother and father were told they helped raise an 'outstanding man - a hero'

Pride: Mr Tumilson’s mother and father were told they helped raise an ‘outstanding man – a hero’. Family, friends and servicemen, along with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, packed the school’s gymnasium. ‘I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn’t make it or couldn’t see what I could from the aisle’. Lisa Pembleton, cousin. Mr Tumilson, who joined the Navy in 1995, was known to friends as J.T. ‘J.T. was going to be a Navy SEAL come hell or high water,’ friend Scott Nichols said. ‘He wasn’t afraid of dying.’ ‘If J.T. had known he was going to be shot down when going to the aid of others, he would have went anyway,’ friend and soldier Boe Nankivel said.

 Packed: His funeral was held in his hometown of Rockford, Iowa, at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School
Packed: His funeral was held in his hometown of Rockford, Iowa, at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School
 Downed: Mr Tumilson, of San Diego, California, was one of 38 killed on August 6 when a rocket-propelled grenade took out their Chinook helicopter
Downed: Mr Tumilson, of San Diego, California, was one of 38 killed on August 6 when a rocket-propelled grenade took out their Chinook helicopter

Mr Tumilson’s sister, Kristie Pohlman, said he always dreamed of joining the military’s elite special forces unit.  ‘Your dreams were big and seemed impossible to nearly everyone on the outside,’ she said. ‘I always knew you’d somehow do what you wanted.’ Family members followed Hawkeye into the service. Mr Tumilson is survived by two sisters and his parents, George and Kathleen.

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Responses

  1. This was so sad, Jacqui. I first saw photos on Facebook a few days ago. A real tear-jerker. Very nicely written, and so lovely of you to share this in his memory.

    • You know from your boyfriend that these Special Forces guys are as pure patriots as our country has. I am crushed that we’d lose this man, not to mention the 29 others. I wish I hadn’t heard about it (but who could miss it) because I’m struggling with how to make sense of it. Thanks for the comment, Nicky. I knew you’d understand.


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