Marine Sgt. Craig Grossi was serving with a Marine recon unit in a remote part of Afghanistan (Sangin) in 2010. His unit was being regularly attacked where he gathered intelligence. One day, Grossi encountered an angel, when he spotted a goofy-looking dog. The dog had very short legs for his body and a head that didn’t seem to fit the body, as well. As he got closer, the stray dog wagged his tail and then followed him back to his compound. “Fred” the funny looking dog, had found a friend. Better yet, Grossi had found his life-saver.
The rules of the Afghan commandos stated no stray dogs were allowed. If a soldier was caught with one, the dog would be euthanized. It became such a heated argument, that a gunfight over Fred almost happened one day. After fellow soldiers saw the interaction between Grossi and Fred in the field and how Fred would always stay silent in hostile territory, it was apparent, some rules are meant to be broken.
In order to get Fred back to the U.S., Grossi smuggled him into the heavily-fortified Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in his duffel bag. A group of DHL workers and a sympathetic veterinarian then helped ship the dog back to the U.S. to eventually be reunited with Grossi.
After returning home, Grossi suffered from a traumatic brain injury after a Taliban rocket hit his compound. He was also diagnosed with severe PTSD after losing his close friend, Gunnery Sergeant Justin Schmalstieg, who was killed by an IED. He would need Fred now, more than ever. By getting his furry friend out of Afghanistan Grossi saved Fred and Fred saved Grossi. Fred was Grossi’s comfort during the nightmares to follow after returning home from war.
Today aired this feel-good story this morning and informed us how Grossi and Fred are spending their days helping others who suffer from PTSD. He lives in Portland where he now resides with his girlfriend, Nora. He has written about the special bond in his memoir, “Craig and Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, And How They Saved Each Other.”
“He’s still saving me,” Grossi said. “There are ways that he’s impacted my life that I’m still figuring out.”
The very old saying, “A dog is man’s best friend,” has never been more true.
Photo courtesy of Today.com