Jajo R620

Jajo R620, 2018 Carved and laminated poplar, sycamore, and walnut; colored with oil paint and burning. Details include polished aluminum pellets and digitally printed canvas insignia. This sculpture captures the instant of impact. Jajo R620, an Army detection dog, and his handler were struck by an IED in Afghanistan in 2012. Cpl Jajo, a German shepherd, served as an Army Tactical Explosives Detection Dog in Afghanistan. Jajo, his handler, Cpl Patrick Tutko, and two other soldiers were conducting a dismounted patrol on 15 September 2012 when they were targeted by a terrorist who remotely detonated an IED. Specially trained military working dogs are so effective at detecting explosives and weapons that they are singled out by terrorists as targets of choice. Cpl Tutko suffered severe trauma and shrapnel injuries to his face, neck, and legs. The other two soldiers were less severely injured. Jajo had penetrating shrapnel wounds, lost half his spleen, and broke two bones in his right rear foot. All four were flown to Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in Paktika Province in southeast Afghanistan. There was no vet at this location, but the surgeons treated all four casualties. According to Dr. Thomas W. Englehart, who was on duty that morning: Working dogs ARE US soldiers and they do have rank and they are accorded the respect and treatment that human US soldiers are given. We somehow knew that one of our wounded soldiers was a dog handler and when we saw the dog brought in, we assumed that the dog needed to remain with its handler. Then I noticed the medevac crewman had placed him on a gurney and that he was wounded as well. It was the saddest thing to see. He didn’t whimper or whine … he just laid his head down and waited to be seen. Apparently, the handler and the dog were out in front of the patrol. The dog is trained to sniff out the chemicals and explosives used in IEDs. The enemy must have been watching and remotely set off the IED as the dog and handler were approaching it. The two of them received the brunt of the blast and the next two soldiers were wounded by flying shrapnel…. From Afghanistan, the seriously wounded handler and his dog were flown to Germany. Cpl Tutko was treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, while Jajo was tended by veterinarians at the nearby Dog Center Europe’s Military Working Dog Ward. When the staff there learned that Tutko was recuperating at the Medical Center—and knowing of the deep bond between handlers and their dogs—they arranged for Jajo to visit. Foreign Policy reported that while the corporal was not “initially aware of his visitor, the German shepherd licked his outstretched hand as he lay in his hospital bed. “Moments later, an eye opened as Jajo licked his hand again and the Soldier was alert enough to give his friend a loving cuddle.” Jajo has recently passed over the rainbow bridge.

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