Four-legged symbol of Marines' spirit

Jacksonville Daily News
October 12,2005

The mutt with the raccoon eyes made the trip halfway around the world because a group of Marines cared.And while others may find it surprising that tough fighting men with a reputation for fierceness and dedication to duty would go all out for the sake of a dog, no one in this area - home of so many service men and women - would share their surprise.

Beans, the dog that cost a Marine unit a quarter and a few jelly beans to purchase, was adopted by the Ohio-based 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, which spent seven months in Iraq's Al Anbar province. The mixed-breed dog became the unit's mascot. It was a unit that needed some cheering up - out of the 900 members who went to Iraq, 48 were killed.

One of those who died was a 25-year-old Marine named Jeffery Boskovitch. Boskovitch, from Seven Hills, Ohio, died when struck by enemy small arms fire outside Haditha, Iraq, on Aug. 1.

Prior to his untimely death, Boskovitch fell in love with Beans, the rescued dog, and told his mother, Kathy Wright, how much he wanted to bring the canine back home with him. Despite her grief at her son's death, Wright didn't forget about Beans or her son's wishes.

She made up her mind that Beans was coming to Ohio and petitioned the Marine Corps to allow the female pooch to be brought to the United States. Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee agreed to her request, and the dog winged its way home courtesy of the Marine Corps.

Beans and Wright were introduced to one another at Camp Lejeune this past week. Wright also took the opportunity to spend time with her son's unit before returning to Ohio with the dog.

She flew in and out on flights donated by U.S. Airways, proving that even big airlines have hearts. And on her return, she was accompanied by the dog her son cared so much about. Beans sported a new collar with the Marine Corps eagle, globe and anchor on it, purchased by the Marines in Boskovitch's unit. They also sprang for a leash and carrier to hold the pooch. Wright told reporters she wanted to share the dog with the rest of her son's unit.

The story of the scruffy pup from far-away is one of those little stories about war and the men and women who fight and die in them that reminds those stateside that these aren't nameless, faceless Marines dying over there.

They were children, siblings, parents and spouses. They were human beings with all their foibles, but they were also capable of great compassion, even when surrounded by the enemy, in what is many times over a hostile environment.

Jeffery Boskovitch didn't come home, but the dog he cared about did. And in the act of bringing Beans to Boskovitch's mother, the Marine Corps, along with U.S. Airways and the many others who cut through red tape, made donations and worked diligently to make the fallen Marine's dream of bringing the dog back home materialize, showed the world that the American military is so much more than a band of warriors. They are also people who care deeply for the underdog, both four-footed and human, freedom and the right of self-determination.

Beans the dog cost only a pittance. However, she brought a sense of purpose and humanity to a group of Marines who gave selflessly of their time and lives in order to free a country and allow the process of democracy a chance.

And, in that capacity, Beans is a priceless gift, both to Boskovitch's mother and to the spirit of Marines everywhere.