The Story of How One U.S. Marine Rescued a Stray Dog From Afghanistan

If you really loved a dog, how far would you go to rescue him so that he could have a better future and life? Would it be worth risking your career and possibly even the dog’s life? This is the situation one Marine found himself in when stationed in a remote location in Afghanistan back in 2010. Craig Grossi, a Marine intelligence collector found a stray dog, fell in love with the pup, then he risked everything to get the pup home to the US. This is the story of how one U.S. Marine rescued a stray dog from Afghanistan.

Craig and Fred’s story

Craig is the author of, Craig & Fred (Harper Collins, 20217), the story of how he met the little pup while his unit was stationed in Afghanistan, right in the midst of Taliban country. Craig’s Marine unit was under constant fire from the Taliban fighters, and he says despite this fact, or maybe it was because of this fact, that he was curiously drawn to the puppy who had made his way into, and stayed to hang out within the compound’s walls.

Craig describes most of the dogs the Marines saw in the desert, as dogs that traveled in packs and were typically afraid of humans. They would quickly run off when approached by a person, but this particular dog did not. Instead, he would anxiously wag his tail whenever Craig approached him, and he would gently accept any food that Craig offered to him. He says that it was an instant bond between the two, and Craig soon affectionately named the dog Fred. It didn’t take long before the two were inseparable and best buds, even though Fred did befriend all the Marines in the compound, and he often took turns sleeping with all of them and sharing the Marine’s meals. He was the unit’s dog, but favored by Craig overall.

The day came when it was time to leave the compound and Craig had a big decision to make. He had to decide between risking leaving with Fred in tow, or leaving Fred behind to fend for himself, however that would end for the pup. Ultimately it was Fred’s decision when he stayed right with Craig, following him to the helicopter that was there waiting to carry the Marines away from their compound post, and back to a U.S. base. According to Craig, “It was Fred’s decision,” he says. “I wasn’t going to risk all that unless he gave me a sign. When he followed me to the helo and wasn’t scared off by all the noise, wind and blowing dirt, I knew he wanted to go.”

How Craig made it back to the U.S. with Fred

The details of how Craig actually got Fred into the U.S. with him will have you on the edge of your seat. You have to understand the rules and regulations of the Marine Corp to know that befriending dogs, and especially allowing them on base is a strictly forbidden law. If you are caught with a dog on base, there are very harsh repercussions for doing this, which means that Craig would have harsh consequences to deal with, if caught, and even more severe consequences for poor Fred, meaning he would have been euthanized. This meant that Craig would have to find a way to get Fred shipped all the way to the U.S. without the authorities being alerted and finding out he even existed.

With careful and quick planning, Craig was able to get Fred back to the U.S., and all with the help of a lot of people who got involved, people who were unlikely advocates for the little stray mutt from a little compound in Afghanistan. Craig sais this about the people who so willingly got involved, “They helped because they could see Fred was a special dog.”

The twosome today

Once Craig finished his tour of duty in Afghanistan, the two friends were finally reunited back home, although both had suffered from the consequences of war. For Craig, he had a head injury to deal with and overcome, as well as post-traumatic stress syndrome. Little Fred had his own issues to deal with. Fred had spent a lot time in a war zone where there was a lack of food and suffered from anxiety due to not having enough to eat for a good portion of his life, prior to meeting Craig. But together, they began to heal each other.

So what are Craig and Fred doing today? The two of them are now touring the country, talking about their own experience as well as working to raise money for animal rescue. Craig want to create an awareness for the rescues of animals in unsafe and unfortunate situations, and asking people to help in any way they can, whether it’s through donations, fostering or adopting these pets.

Happy trails to the two. It was a successful rescue mission and both of their lives are better for it.


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