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    Eglin, Desoto County Mourn the Loss A Hero



    Story by Staff Sgt. Alexzandria Gomez 

    7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

    "[Luca] wasn't just a canine," said a Green Beret known as Wes, with 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). "He was a trusted partner, a companion, and a source of inspiration to those who had the privilege of working alongside him."

    Multi-Purpose Canine (MPC) Luca's journey began in 2015, when he arrived at the Special Operation Forces Multi-Purpose Canine Detachment (MPCD) at 7th SFG(A). The lively, alert two-year-old Dutch Shepherd paired with his first human companion, Wes, soon after his arrival.

    "Amid loud barking from 13 vigilant canines," Wes recalls, "I traversed the kennels until I stood before Luca's enclosure. A distinct intuition resonated with me that he was the one. It was a testament to the bond that would unfold between us."

    Wes and Luca embarked on a series of complex deployments that demonstrated just how much Luca embodied the spirit of a true warrior. They became an inseparable team and invaluable assets to the 7th SFG(A).

    "Luca and I found ourselves immersed in the crucible of heavy combat in Afghanistan," said Wes. "We were assigned to a strike force to eliminate high-value targets."

    While carrying out their mission, enemy machine-gun fire ravaged the battlefield just a few meters away from the objective. Wes was stunned by the sudden eruption of the enemy rounds that claimed the lives of fellow soldiers around them, but Luca was fearless. He sprang into action to save his partner.

    "Luca sensed my delayed response and swiftly grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to the ground," Wes said as he cleared his throat. "Bullets impacted all around us. At that moment, I realized that without Luca's intervention, I would not have survived the situation.”

    Amid the chaos, Luca's sharp instincts took over and dragged Wes out of the kill zone. Luca’s quick reaction only confirmed what Wes felt in the kennel’s that day. Luca was not only “the one”, but he had created the bond that transcends a dog and his handler.

    In 2020, after a meritorious and awe-inspiring military career, Luca retired from the Army; however, his service to his country was far from over. Luca’s training and record made him a desirable asset for several agencies. Luca found a new home and purpose in the Desoto County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit with Sergeant Nick Cook, a Desoto County Canine Deputy, his new handler.

    Luca's career in the police force was equally as impressive as his military career. He was involved in numerous critical incidents involving violent offenders, high-risk warrants, and other innumerable operations on the local, state, and federal levels.

    "Luca is an incredible example of heroism," said Cook, "and that is no surprise to those fortunate enough to be around him."

    Luca never hesitated to put himself in harm's way to protect his counterparts. Unfortunately, this proved to be true once again on February 21, 2024…

    After more than three honorable years in the canine unit and working alongside Cook, the duo was faced with an untimely string of events that led to Luca paying the ultimate sacrifice.

    Luca was killed in action during a felony traffic stop that turned into a high-speed vehicle chase.

    After a Precision Immobilization Technique or "P.I.T. Maneuver" was performed disabling the offender's vehicle, Luca was then deployed to the wreckage with Cook not far behind. Unsuspecting gunshots were fired from the suspect's vehicle, fatally wounding Luca.

    "Although I feel incredible pain for the loss of Luca," said Cook, "Luca dedicated his life to service and saved lives at his own expense. Luca was a true warrior, and I could not be more proud of my partner."

    Although this event led to the demise of Luca, he will be fondly remembered for his ability to be an outstanding working dog, respected and honored by anyone who had the pleasure of being on his team.

    Luca will be missed by the community he once served. His absence will be felt immensely within the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Desoto County, and especially to those who had the opportunity to hold the other end of his leash.

    Wes delivered a final salute to a trusted friend.

    "Rest in peace, Luca," said Wes. "Your legacy will live on with the stories we've shared, the memories we've cherished and the gratitude we hold in our hearts for your service.”


    Date Taken: 03.07.2024
    Date Posted: 03.07.2024 16:50
    Story ID: 465655

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