CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A former infantry Marine living in South Carolina was reunited with the bomb dog that once served by his side.
Chase Smoak had been separated from the black Labrador Retriever he was assigned to handle for over 8 years.
“We lost a lot of guys on that deployment, and that dog and I were in more fire fights than I can count. He was there beside me through the death of multiple buddies, and yea I can say we’ve been through a little bit together,” Smoak said.
Smoak and Luke built a bond like no other during their time on the battlefield in the Middle East, but after a deployment, the military separated Smoak and Luke.
“I was told I had 5 minutes left with him,” Smoak said. “I kneeled down beside him and told him I’d find him again.”
For those eight years of separation, Smoak made more phone calls than he could count to try and find out what happened to Luke, and his persistence finally paid off when he discovered his long-lost friend was no longer out of reach.
“I didn’t give up. I guess it’s good to be hard-headed sometimes,” Smoak said. “He’s staying with a man in the Upstate of South Carolina two hours away. What are the odds?”
The two were able to reunite and reconnect this weekend with the same toy that helped them bond so many years ago.
“I don’t like to admit that a marine will cry like a baby, but I’ll tell ya right now, I had some tears in my eyes.” Smoak said.
The humble, former Marine said he hoped his story of reuniting with Luke will highlight the highly-skilled trainers who prepare dogs like Luke for war and the people who help military members, like himself, find their four-legged partners after they are separated.