1. Headline
  1. Headline
Navy SEAL Killed In Afghanistan Mourned By Dog
Lisa Pembleton  /  Getty Images
Hawkeye lays by the casket during the funeral of his owner, Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, on August 19.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 8/25/2011 9:54:58 AM ET 2011-08-25T13:54:58

Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson lay in a coffin, draped in an American flag, in front of a tearful audience mourning his death in Afghanistan. Soon an old friend appeared, and like a fellow soldier on a battlefield, his loyal dog refused to leave him behind.

Tumilson’s Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, was photographed lying by Tumilson’s casket in a heart-wrenching image taken at the funeral service in Tumilson’s hometown of Rockford, Iowa, earlier this week. Hawkeye walked up to the casket at the beginning of the service and then dropped down with a heaving sigh as about 1,500 mourners witnessed a dog accompanying his master until the end, reported CBS.

Image: Jon T. Tumilson
AP
Petty Officer 1st Class Jon T. Tumilson was killed along with other SEALs on Aug. 6 in Afghanistan.

Story: Maltese dog missing for year after car crash is headed home

The photo was snapped by Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, and posted on her Facebook page in memory of the San Diego resident. Tumilson, 35, was one of 30 American troops, including 22 Navy SEALs, who were killed when a Taliban insurgent shot down a Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade on Aug. 6.

“I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle,” Pembleton wrote on her Facebook page. “To say that he was an amazing man doesn't do him justice. The loss of Jon to his family, military family and friends is immeasurable.’’

Video: Dog jumps up with joy as owner returns from Afghanistan

Hawkeye was such a huge part of Tumilson’s life that Tumilson’s family followed the dog down the aisle as they entered the service in front of a capacity crowd in the gymnasium at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School. Hawkeye then followed Tumilson’s good friend, Scott Nichols, as Nichols approached the stage to give a speech. As Nichols prepared to memorialize his friend, Hawkeye dutifully laid down near the casket.

The youngest of three children, Tumilson had wanted to be a Navy SEAL since he was a teenager. Friends and his two older sisters remembered a fearless soldier, and a Power Point presentation was shown that illustrated Tumilson’s active life outside of the military, which included scuba diving, martial arts, and triathlons.

Story: 'Courtroom dog' helps young rape victim testify

"If J.T. had known he was going to be shot down when going to the aid of others, he would have went anyway," friend Boe Nankivel said at the service.

“Your dreams were big and seemed impossible to nearly everyone on the outside," his sister, Kristie Pohlman, said at the service. "I always knew you'd somehow do what you wanted."

As for Hawkeye, the loyal Labrador will now be owned by Nichols, Tumilson’s friend.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. TODAY

    video Keir Simmons reports: Conspiracy theories grow around MH17

    7/23/2014 11:28:28 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T11:28:28
  1. GPS monitoring fail: Some felons continue to prey despite bracelets

    When high-risk criminals leave prison, many must wear ankle bracelets with GPS monitoring. But an NBC News investigation uncovered cases of parole officers asleep at the switch, allowing violent offenders to strike again. Jeff Rossen reports.

    7/23/2014 11:44:27 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T11:44:27
  1. Why 7 hours of sleep a night may be better than 8

    For years, we’ve heard that we need a solid eight hours of sleep. And, for years, we’ve heard that we’re terrible at getting it. Well, what we’ve heard might be wrong.

    7/23/2014 11:34:13 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T11:34:13
  2. How much sleep do you get? Take our survey
  1. Jenna Bush Hager: 5 things I've learned from my Gampy

    My grandfather has really always astonished me. On this milestone — his 90th birthday — I thought about how much I have learned from him.

    7/23/2014 10:43:31 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T10:43:31
  2. video George H.W. Bush talks to TODAY about turning 90

    video Check out the extended, full-length interview that President George H.W. Bush gave to his granddaughter, TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager, around his 90th birthday parachute jump.

    7/3/2014 8:13:54 PM +00:00 2014-07-03T20:13:54
  3. video Barbara Bush to son: Your dad was the best president

    video TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager talks with her grandmother, first lady Barbara Bush, and her father, President George W. Bush, about their picks for history’s best president and first lady.

    7/22/2014 8:17:09 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T20:17:09
  4. Courtesy of Jenna Bush Hager
  1. FeaturePics.com

    Fetuses can learn nursery rhymes from mom's voice, study finds

    7/23/2014 10:53:36 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T10:53:36