Operation Puppy Love

December 22, 2008 2:04:27 PM PST
The family of a North Valley soldier just home from Iraq is very proud of his military service and of the blessing the young man helped send to a fallen comrade's mother.U.S. Army Specialist Matt Alford of Chowchilla was in 'civvies' when he arrived at Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

The 24 year old just completed his second tour in Iraq and is looking forward to his month long leave from Ft. Hood, Texas.

Matt Alford: "Take advantage of the time I got here, spend some time with my family."

Six of his buddies didn't make it home, including 19 year old Private 1st Class Alex Varela of Orangevale California near Sacramento.

They died last May on a Baghdad street from an IED blast.

Matt Alford: "We started taking small arms fire and so we cordoned off the vehicle but it was too late, the vehicle went up in flames."

When The Private Varelas' mother asked the men in his unit about the puppy she saw in her son's pictures they decided to find a way to send it to her.

Rinda Pope, Son died in Iraq: "It was a little bit of something of Alex, you know, that I could love."

After months of planning their mission operation puppy love succeeded.

'D.J.' ... Alex's puppy arrived at his mother's home.

Matt Alford: She's gona have many, many many years of happiness with little DJ, she's just a great dog, she's loving."

Cheryl Roberts, Matt Alford's Mother: I'm so proud of everything he's done, defending our country, keeping us safe and for the sensitivity that he has given to Rinda by helping to bring the Puppy home.

The lessons of life, death and healing learned in wartime.


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