For 1 year, a Florida Soldier named Nick Pierzchalski had served as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot during the war in Iraq as part of his service duty – for the Florida Army National Guard. His role in the war was to transport the many wounded soldiers to safety – and he had saved many lives thanks to his assistance. However, one life that he had saved was very much different from the rest. During their time in Iraq, he and his fellow soldiers had stumbled upon a female stray dog in the Iraq desert while they were on active duty.
“This dog ran up to me, ran up to our group, and befriended us immediately. 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,” the Florida Army National Guard pilot fondly recalls.
Pierzchalski was extremely fond of the dog, so much so that he had even built her a kennel in the hangar personally, naming her Airys. Since they had first met, Airys was always spotted with him – for the rest of his time in Iraq. When the time came for Pierzchalski to depart from Iraq as he had finished his service in March 2017, his heart sank as Airys had to be left behind.
Heartbroken, Pierzchalski returned to his home alone in Brooksville, Florida. He would never have imagined that he would ever see Airys again. Luckily, with the help of both SPCA International and Operation Baghdad Pups, a surprise awaited three months later in June later that year.
Both organizations had made special arrangements and bookings for Airys to be transported back to Florida, back to where Pierzchalski was! As soon as Airys’s flight touched down in Tampa, Pierzchalski who is Florida Soldier, was already there, eagerly waiting to see her. Once Airys got out from the kennel, she ran over immediately ran over and snuggled her body against him, wagging her tail with excitement! Despite the soldier’s fears, Airys remembers him well.
Pierzchalski hugs Airys back with tears in his eyes, and says: “You’re a lot bigger. I can’t even put it into words, I really can’t. I didn’t think I was going to get her home, and they made it possible, everybody made it possible, and it’s just unbelievable.” Airys now lives happily with Pierzchalski, in her new Brooksville home!
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