Service to be held for Marine Service Dog Tuesday at WC

Weatherford College will hold a ceremony to honor Cpl. Max, the Marine Service Dog, Tuesday morning in the Kramer Flag Plaza.

A service for Cpl. Max, a Marine Service Dog who died in January, is scheduled to take place at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday in the Kramer Flag Plaza, hosted by Weatherford College.

The Marine Unit from Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth plans to attend the ceremony.

Max helped save more than 3,000 lives in Afghanistan. He served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, co-owner John Park said. Max was 12 years old and had to euthanized because of kidney failure.

Max regularly attended WC’s Veterans Day ceremonies and was an ambassador for military working dogs.

Up until 2015, Park said military dogs were treated like equipment.

“If a dog was taken out of service, wherever they were taken out of service, they were just left there unless somebody was willing to pay out of their pocket to bring the dog back,” Park said.

The Military Working Dog Retirement Act of 2015 was a bill stuck in committee when Park and Max took to the road to talk with people about the legislation and encourage them to contact their representatives.

Former President Barack Obama signed such a measure into law toward the end of 2015.

“Dogs have to come home with their handler, they’re considered personnel,” Park said.

Max served in a team with Park’s son, former Marine Capt. Jeffrey Park, and Jeffrey Park applied to adopt Max once the dog retired, which was in November 2011.

Max retired sooner than expected because he suffered two heat strokes in a month while preparing for another tour in Afghanistan. While Jeffrey Park was overseas, his parents took care of Max.

Jeffrey Park said losing Max was like losing one of his fellow Marines and called the dog more than a pet.

Jeffrey Park said his young children loved Max, who had a mild-mannered disposition that worked well around children.

“I have a 3- and a 5-year-old so it’s hard to explain the concept of seeing Max at Christmas and then not being able to see him again,” Jeffrey Park said. “They don’t quite understand that relationship yet, that he’s not ever coming back.”

John Park described Max as having a calming influence on people. Max could not only find bombs and save lives but could help military members with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“To this day, we can’t talk about Max without, hate to say it, crying,” John Park said. “He had such a warm, sweet disposition that he just endeared himself to you and everybody he touched.”

Max traveled with the Parks to multiple places, and they attracted people wherever they went, John and Julia Park said. Some people felt compelled to greet Max and thank him for his service.

Julia Park said Max connected civilians with people who have sacrificed their lives or time for American freedoms.

“He was that bridge between those two worlds that served as a good reminder that there are people and animals who are putting their lives on the line willingly for us,” Julia Park said. “What I found interesting was how few of us, with John and me included, realized just what an important role animals, and specifically the dogs because of Max, the role that they have played in peacetime, wartime, whatever, and that not all heroes or veterans have the two legs.”

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