Christopher Willingham | Afghanistan | Search Dog

Military Working Dog (MWD) Lucca is a two-time Iraq veteran who served one tour in Afghanistan. MWD Lucca, an eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, is a specialized search dog trained to detect trace amounts of explosive compounds and warn handlers of their presence. In that role, Lucca was extremely successful. While on more than 400 patrols during her nearly two years overseas, Lucca had more than 40 confirmed finds and saved the lives of countless Marines.

On her last deployment she suffered an injury from an IED blast that resulted in the amputation of her left front leg. This injury led to her retirement from military service.

Lucca was recently transported to Finland where she will live with her original handler, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham, who teamed with her on her first two deployments. Willingham is currently serving as the detachment Staff Non-Commissioned Officer in charge at the U.S. Embassy in Finland.

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Luccas on patrol with Marine Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham
American Airlines provided transportation for Lucca and her current handler, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, through its partnership with Air Compassion for Veterans (ACV), an organization that provides flights for service members, veterans and their families to receive medical and rehabilitative services. A portion of fuel savings generated by American's employees' fuel saving initiatives is donated to ACV.

Since the partnership began in 2010, more than 3,000 service members, veterans and their family members have traveled as a result of employee fuel conservation efforts.

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Luccas and handler, Cpl. Juan Rodriguez
GySgt Willingham is a 14 year veteran with two tours to Iraq and one tour to Afghanistan. He was MWD Lucca's original handler and was teamed with her for the first two deployments. He is currently serving as the detachment Staff Non-commissioned officer in charge for the Helsinki embassy. He is the individual who is adopting MWD Lucca to allow her to enjoy retirement with a familiar face and friend.

Cpl Rodriguez is a two time Afghanistan veteran, who has been awarded for valor in a combat zone. He has been a Military Working Dog handler for 3yrs and has been handling MWD Lucca for one year now.