In Team Foster’s efforts to ensure that there is No Hero Left Behind™, we are regularly reminded that the definition of heroism is far-reaching and expansive. Today we’d like to celebrate the work of another hero, senior Black Labrador Sgt. Goodwin L518. Sgt. Goodwin served as a working dog on multiple tours and now helps a veteran in his retirement.
As a puppy in 2007, Sgt. Goodwin began training to work as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Detector Dog with the Marine Corps. Throughout his career, Goodwin completed a tour in Iraq, four tours in Afghanistan and earned the ranking of Sergeant, the highest rank possible for a canine in the United States Marine Corps.
Sgt. Goodwin is named in honor of Ssgt. Anthony Goodwin, a Marine who was killed in action on May 8, 2005. Ssgt. Goodwin was a highly decorated soldier who was awarded multiple Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star of Valor. His tours included Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and 2005.
When Sgt. Goodwin retired, Anthony’s mother Brenda, and brother Greg, were given the opportunity to bring him home. Greg is a retired Army Ranger whose tours included Bosnia and Somalia. On their way home, the family stopped to visit Anthony’s final resting place at the Arlington National Cemetery. According to Brenda, “[a]s we walked toward Anthony’s grave, Sgt. Goodwin made a bee-line to the grave and laid down. He never met Anthony and he had never been there.”
Team Foster learned of Sgt. Goodwin and the Goodwin family’s story from a GoFundMe campaign started by Lynne Wittkamp.
Wittkamp was initially contacted about a retired military dog who may need a wheelchair. After separate phone conversations with Greg and his girlfriend, Wittkamp arranged a time to meet the retired Labrador and his family. Wittkamp describes that meeting as “an afternoon spent with strangers that left me feeling genuinely grateful and inspired. And so, an opportunity presented itself to pay it forward and give back to not only a dog but an entire family who have given so much to this country and in turn, each one of us.”
Wittkamp decided to start the GoFundMe campaign on behalf of the Goodwin family to help cover Sgt. Goodwin’s increasing medical costs in his senior years.
Reflecting on her experience with Greg and the Goodwin family, Wittkamp emphasized that “[t]he Goodwins never asked for help or had their hand out… I crossed paths with Greg because of a dog, became inspired by him and his family and now consider him a friend. I have nothing but respect for Greg. [H]e didn’t ask for any assistance but is overwhelmed with appreciation.”
Although he may not stand on two legs or speak our language, Sgt. Goodwin is a hero in every sense of the word. Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Sgt. Goodwin continues to serve as a support to Greg in his battle with PTSD as well as a connection to a man dearly missed by his friends and family.
After hearing and connecting with these stories, Team Foster has decided to assist the Goodwin family by covering all of Sgt. Goodwin L518’s medical costs. This will include veterinarian visits, medications, physical therapy, and the treatment he needs to improve his health.
We fully believe in the importance of supporting the rehabilitation of our military heroes and took pleasure in seizing this opportunity to do just that. We hope that the service and sacrifice exhibited by Anthony, Greg and Sgt. Goodwin serve as reminders of the importance of supporting our veterans.