(This story by MEF PAO strikes close to home as it transpired close our operations) Dogs work in many ways throughout the area and the below story is yet another example of the great work they continue to do-enjoy with a stoag)
Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Worse than turbulence, their truck sways side to side and bumps up and down along a path in Afghanistan. What would be an intolerable ride for most is just something Lance Cpl. Paul N. Krist, a dog handler for 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and his dog Max have accepted as part of the job.
Max, a black three-year-old Labrador, sits calmly on the floor next to his master Krist who is reading a book. Both are waiting patiently for their next opportunity to work. Suddenly, the back of the truck opens.
“Get out, we need you and the dog,” says Cpl. Adam S. Rogers, combat engineer for 2nd CEB.
Springing to action, Max immediately starts sniffing the area for explosive material. As they continue down the road they discover why they were called.
A white van has been halted and surrounded by Marines discussing whether or not the bags found in its trunk are indeed HME (homemade explosives).
One of the bags is thrown on the ground that Max begins to sniff. After a few moments, it becomes evident to Krist that the bags do not contain bomb-making materials.
“Max lies down if it’s HME,” said Krist.
For Krist, getting to this point took training and a passion for helping others.
Originally a tank mechanic, Krist became a dog handler after learning the billet would likely lead to a deployment in Afghanistan.
My Staff Sgt. told me I’d have a high chance of deploying as a dog handler, Krist said.
“I wanted to deploy,” said Krist.
After arriving to IED detectors dog course, Krist was paired with Max, who quickly became his new best friend.
“When we got there, they gave us a sheet of paper that asked us what our hobbies were and what we did on our free time. It was supposed to help us pair up with the dogs. But, our tallest guy got the biggest dog, our meanest guy got the meanest dog and I got Max,” said Krist, with a laugh.
From then on the two have constantly been perfecting their IED detection skills.
Their first find came early in Krist’s and Max’s deployment when they were still learning their area of operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
“I didn’t expect to find anything, said Krist. “Then Max laid down and I was like, ‘oh dang, I’m kind of close to this.’ So I backed up and gave him his toy; that’s what he gets for finding an IED, then he ran away and Explosive Ordinance Disposal Marines dug it out.”
Later, Krist learned they had uncovered two IED’s carrying 50 and 60 pounds of HME.
Although their discovery was an incredible feat that more than likely saved lives, Krist is not out for the recognition.
“When I came over here as a dog handler I wanted to find IEDs. Not to say that I did, but to use my dog for what we were trained for,” said the nineteen-year-old Krist.
With his dog and his M-4, Krist continues to hit the road time and time again, with 2nd CEB, to contribute to the fight against roadside bombs.
“I really enjoy what I do, and the guys I work with. They really care about their job and the safety of others,” said Krist. “My drive comes from knowing that we’re keeping people safe, and it’s not long before I go home. I hope I have a chance to do something this relevant in winning the war on my next deployment, and I hope Max can come too.”