b. ? Netherlands. d. 20/01/2018 California.
DATE OF DM ACTION: 2006-2012 Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lucca was born in the Netherlands. The Israel Defense Forces brought her to Israel and she trained there for six months with an American team. She was then inducted at Lackland in the United States and brought to the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona for training in an environment similar to Iraq. She served two tours of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps during her six years of service. During that time, she completed more than 400 missions. She was trained as a specialized search dog, and belonged to an elite group of canines capable of working off-leash at long distances from their handlers in dangerous situations. On her missions, no humans accompanying her were ever injured. Specifically, the dog’s record of military service included Afghanistan with more than 400 patrols and three combat tours in Iraq. She was credited with finding ammunition, explosives and insurgents at least 40 times, without a single human fatality under her watch.
The PDSA noted that she protected thousands of human lives as part of her assignments. On her last mission in 2012, when she was on patrol in Afghanistan, she sniffed out a 30-pound (13.6-kilogram) IED and was continuing her search when she lost one of her legs when another IED detonated underneath her. Cpl. Juan Rodriguez, her handler, thought she had been killed, but was able to rescue her. He administered first aid, and Lucca was then airlifted to Germany for medical treatment and rehabilitation. Ten days after the explosion, she was walking again. Following her recovery from her injury, Lucca was retired. She lived in California with Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham and his family.
The story of Lucca’s life has been turned into a book, Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca by Maria Goodavage.
For tireless service to the military communities of the United States of America and coalition partners from 2006 to 2012.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.