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Kansas Marine reunites with military dog

By jim Published: September 25, 2009
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS SEPT. 25-27 ** In this Sept. 19, 2009 photo, First Lt. Chris Corman pets his dog ETTy, short for Embedded Training Team puppy, in Derby, Kan.. Corman, a Marine who just got home to Derby, Kan., from serving in Afghanistan, had the dog shipped home after his unit took in the puppy while serving. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — He saw a squirrel the other day in his new back yard in Derby and chased it up a tree.

First time he'd ever done that. He hadn't seen squirrels, or trees, in Afghanistan.

It was a big moment for ETTy, a black and white mutt that was adopted in Afghanistan in December by 1st Lt. Chris Corman of Derby and some of his Marine buddies

Corman, 28, was stationed with about 20 other Marines in Mehtar Lam, halfway between Kabul and Jalalabad.

For nine months, they served as an embedded training team with a unit of the Afghan National Army.

So they named the mutt ETTy, for Embedded Training Team puppy. They raised him on chow-hall food and care packages from home.

When their families learned they had a dog, Corman said, "All of our care packages quickly turned from being magazines and anything we wanted to being dog food."

They thought about leaving him for the next team, but changed their minds.

"He got to be such a member of the group, we didn't want to leave him," Corman said.

When plans fell through for another Marine to take him, Corman stepped up.

Back home in Derby, Corman's parents, Dan and Peggy Corman, raised $4,000 to have ETTy flown to stay with them.

Dan's co-workers at Citizens Bank of Kansas pitched in, and Peggy, who retired as a teacher at Wineteer Elementary School, tapped her teaching friends.

A volunteer animal rescue group in Afghanistan called Tigger House arranged the trip.

It didn't go smoothly. ETTy became ill with respiratory problems in Kabul, delaying his departure for a month. An American vet gave him a 50-50 chance to live.

But antibiotics worked, and ETTy flew to Islamabad, Pakistan, where he was bumped from connecting flights to New York for animals that were flying with passengers.

He eventually reached New York, then flew to Kansas City, Mo., arriving a week ago.

Dan and Peggy picked him up there. They had one of Chris' shirts with them to give him a familiar scent.

Chris Corman flew into Wichita from Okinawa late Friday. He will report for a new assignment in Virginia on Oct. 1. He plans to take ETTy along once he finds housing.

His parents brought ETTy to Mid-Continent Airport when Chris arrived, but the reunion was subdued because Chris and ETTy were exhausted.

Peggy Corman said the real reunion happened after they arrived home in Derby.

Chris and ETTy wandered out to the back patio, and ETTy started wagging his tail. Chris hugged him.

Saturday morning, they went for a three-mile jog together, ETTy running close to Chris' side.

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