It’s been almost four years since this heartbreaking photograph captured a dog refusing to leave his owner, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action. And since then, this pair has left a legacy.
Jon Tumilson was one of 30 American military members killed when a Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in August of 2011. He was only 35 years old. At the funeral, Tumilson’s dog, Hawkeye, refused to leave his owner’s side. A thousand mourners watched as the Labrador Retriever guarded the casket throughout the ceremony. The image captured by a family member went viral, grabbing the attention of the nation.
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Hawkeye’s dedication to his owner later inspired an NCIS episode that aired in 2013. “It all started with a photograph,” co-executive producer Scott Williams posted on the site’s blog, adding, “The episode was dedicated to military working dogs and their brave handlers everywhere.”
That same year, a bronze statue of Tumilson and Hawkeye was erected in Rockford, Illinois.
This week, the family presented the 4th annual Jon Thomas Tumilson Memorial Scholarship, which offers $5,000 to a graduating senior from Rockford Senior High, Tumilson’s alma mater. Recipients of this award write an essay about how they overcame excuses to achieve their goals.
After his owner’s death, Hawkeye went to live with a family friend, Scott Nichols.
We thank Tumilson and all the other brave soldiers who gave their lives protecting our country for their service and sacrifice. They’ve not been forgotten.
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