It’s possible to make lifelong friends just about anywhere, even in the middle of a war zone.
Nick Pierzchalsk is a med-evac pilot with the Florida Army National Guard. In 2016 he was deployed to Iraq, where he flew a Blackhawk helicopter to air lift wounded soldiers off the battle field to safety. While he was there, he met a stray feral dog who instantly ingratiated herself with Nick and his colleagues.
Nick and his crew named the dog Airys, and soon they became inseparable. Airys was always there to cheer up Nick and the other soldiers after a difficult day. “This dog ran up to me, ran up to our group, and befriended us immediately,” Nick recalled. “It brought great morale to me and the whole group felt like a piece of home. She’d hang out with us. She was constantly with us.”
Nick built Airys a dog kennel in the hangar, most likely the first home she’d ever been offered. She quickly became accustomed to being fed and cuddled! As his time in Iraq came to a close, his thoughts turned to how he would ever be able to abandon his new friend when the time came to head back home.
When Nick got back to his home in Brooksville, Florida, he couldn’t stop thinking about Airys. He reached out to SPCA International and Operation Baghdad Pups, who immediately got to work arranging transport for this honorary U.S. canine citizen.
Three months after Nick got home he received word that Airys was en route to the Tampa airport! With camera crews on the scene to record the reunion, Nick watched eagerly as workers unloaded a crate with the nervous dog inside. The soldier admitted that he was afraid she wouldn’t remember him, but as soon as Airys heard his voice you can tell that was not the case at all!
“You’re a lot bigger,” Nick said as he ran his hands over the 1-year-old dog’s body. Airys begins to whimper with excitement as Nick lavished her with attention. When Nick lifted her into his arms, she rewarded him with a flurry of slobbery puppy kisses. Nick told the reporter on the scene that he was overwhelmed by Airys’s reaction, and relieved she knew who he was.
“I can’t even put it on words, I really can’t. I didn’t think I was going to get her home,” he said happily. “She remembers! I was nervous she wasn’t going to remember but she obviously does.”
This puppy hit the jackpot when she wandered up to this soldier! The life that lies ahead of her is filled with fresh air, green grass, good food, and lots of love — a far cry from being a stray in the desert!
Watch Airys and Nick’s emotional reunion in the video below, and don’t forget to share this moment with others.
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