Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Living Legacy of Major Wesley J. Hinkley

“Loyalty. Service. Commitment.” These are the words stamped on SSD Major Wes’s new dog tags.

SSD Major Wes (“Wes”) is named after Major Wesley J. Hinkley, who died on April 4, 2011 while serving in the U.S. Army in Baghdad, Iraq. He was a faithful husband, father, son, brother, soldier, and friend. Yesterday at Fort Indiantown Gap, we joined a group of friends, family, and fellow soldiers to recognize and celebrate Major Hinkley’s life and the future of the service dog puppy who now bears his name.

After losing her son, Karen Mojecki wanted some way to honor him. “Wes was the kind of person who, when he made a friend, he made a friend for life. He was always there. And he was always there for his men,” said Karen.

A soldier takes care of others, and because of that, Karen decided that naming a service dog after her son would be perfect. With the help of others who knew Major Hinkley, she raised money to name a puppy.

Then on Memorial Day weekend, a little black ball of fur arrived from Canine Partners for Life. It was immediately clear that SSD Major Wes had a calm, steady temperament, as if he knew what he was supposed to do and would do it.

“It was right that it was Memorial Day weekend, and that the puppy is a black lab,” said Karen. “We had a black lab when Wes was growing up.”

SSD Major Wes is now ten weeks old and is being raised in our Northeast Puppy Raising Program. He will stay with his puppy raiser until he’s 18 months old, learning the basic skills he will need as a working service dog.

“Wes is a wonderful dog,” said Pam Foreman, director of Susquehanna Service Dogs. “We’re honored to be a part of this.”

When SSD Major Wes completes his formal training, he could assist someone who uses a wheelchair, he could respond to someone having a seizure, he could alert to sounds for someone who is hearing impaired, or he could assist a child or adult with autism. He may even assist a veteran.

“We have worked with many veterans,” said Pam, “and they have told us that their life after getting their service dog is totally different.” The service dog makes a huge impact on their life.

“Wes always wanted to be in the military,” said Karen. “Not everyone gets to live their dream.”

Now, SSD Major Wes is a living legacy to Major Hinkley’s loyalty, service, and commitment. One day, SSD Major Wes may help someone else reach their dreams.

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