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MARSOC honors fallen Marine dog handler

September 4, 2015 (Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Phillip Houk)

The Marines' special operations command will dedicate its multi-purpose dog kennel to a Marine dog handler who was killed in action, MARSOC officials announced today.

The command's Multi-Purpose Canine kennel will be renamed Sept. 7 in honor of Cpl. David Sonka, a multi-purpose canine handler attached to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion. Sonka, 23, and Staff Sgt. Eric Christian, 39, were killed May 4, 2013, in Farah province, Afghanistan, in an insider attack when an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on the Marines. Sonka's working dog, Flex, was also killed in the attack, reportedly in an attempt to save the Marines.

The Sept. 7 ceremony will also be the formal unveiling of a life-size bronze statue of a MARSOC multi-purpose canine in front of the kennel facility in honor of the working dogs that serve there, MARSOC spokesman Capt. Barry Morris said. Sonka's family, including his mother, father and stepmother, will be present for the ceremony.

The command uses working dogs for explosive and human odor detection, man tracking and trailing, and guarding and protection, officials said. The kennel houses all of MARSOC's working dogs on the East Coast, up to 20 at a time.

"MARSOC's multi-purpose canines and handlers receive extensive training prior to employment and are critical combat multipliers that can be used by a commander to accomplish the mission," said Morris in a news release.

Flex was the second MARSOC working dog to die supporting combat operations since the command activated in 2006. Sgt. Christopher Wrinkle, 29, of 2nd MSOB, and his dog Tosca died in Afghanistan on July 31, 2011, when the barracks they were sleeping in downrange caught fire.


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