Courage and Sacrifice, Always Beside You
A temporary exhibit featuring Wounded Warrior Dogs wooden sculptures by artist James Mellick will be on display in the Kettering Hall from Nov. 8, 2019 through Jan. 31, 2020.
Mellick started the Wounded War Dogs Project, a traveling exhibition of wooden dog sculptures, to be symbolic of the sacrifices made and the wounds suffered by their human companions in battle and bring attention to the service and heroism of military working dogs.
About the artist:
A native of Ohio, Jim Mellick has been creating art and teaching art since the 1970s. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Southern Illinois University in 1973. His preferred medium is wood, from which he sculpts movement, life, and emotion. Retiring from full-time teaching in 2014, he began the creation of the “Wounded Warrior Dogs Project” and started touring the exhibition in 2015.
Over the Rainbow Bridge
Story of Lucca and Cooper:
Lucca K458 is laminated and carved basswood that has been bleached, stained, and burned for coloring. Tongue is carved cherry and teeth are maple. The medallion replica of the Dickin Medal is 3D-printed.
Cooper K154 is laminated and carved basswood. Dove and football are carved and painted basswood.
Trained to detect explosives for the Marine Corps, Lucca completed more than 400 missions over a 6-year career. In 2012 on patrol in Afghanistan, she barely survived an IED blast. In 2016, she received the prestigious Dickin Medal for “conspicuous gallantry” by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a British organization.
Lucca and Cooper were on assignment together in 2007 in Iraq. Between patrols, Lucca and Cooper snoozed together in shady patches or cavorted with a deflated football. Cooper and his handler, Army Cpl Kory Wiens, were on patrol on 6 July 2007 when an insurgent remotely detonated an IED hidden in a haystack, killing both instantly.
The dove on Cooper’s back signifies the angel wings he earned. The football is Cooper’s connection on Earth to Lucca. It celebrates the dogs’ playfulness and camaraderie, which brought joy to warfighters.
U.S. Air Force and Military Working Dogs:
The 341st Training Squadron at the Military Working Dog Center on JBSA-Lackland provides training to military working dogs (MWDs) used in patrol, drug and explosive detection, and specialized mission functions for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government agencies. Personnel conduct operational training of MWD handlers and supervisors and sustain DoD MWD program through logistical support, veterinary care, and research and development for security efforts worldwide.
The DOD Military Working Dog program, the world’s largest training center for military dogs and handlers, has been based at JBSA-Lackland since 1958. The DOD Military Working Dog Veterinary Service and the Holland Working Dog Hospital, the largest for military working dogs, are also located on JBSA-Lackland.
New Wounded Warrior Dog exhibit coming to National Museum USAF on Nov 8