Two Heroes Reunited: A Co-op Family Celebrates a Special Homecoming

Dogs are often called “man’s best friend.” They are incredibly loyal, dependable and intelligent. Dogs have also played an important role in America’s recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These Tactical Explosive Detector Dogs (TEDDs) have saved countless lives on foreign battlefields. Former U.S. Army Specialist Corey Williamson, the son of Co-op lineman Greg Williamson, proudly counts himself among those whose lives have been spared because of the heroic efforts of these combat canines. 
From 2011 to 2012, Corey was stationed in Afghanistan and worked with his TEDD, Sergeant Falco, a German shepherd. Williamson said because the dogs always lead their handlers, they are always placed a rank above their partners. Falco and Corey were paired together during training in Indiana, graduated from the program and then worked as a team in Afghanistan, searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and anything else that could harm U.S. and Afghan forces. 
“On the third day we were deployed, we found our first IED. It was a mortar round, wired into a pressure plate, on a door seam,” said Williamson. This was the first of many explosives Falco and Corey found — saving the lives of those serving in Afghanistan. 
The two were inseparable while overseas. Falco stayed by Corey’s side everywhere he went. In very stressful situations, Falco’s presence helped keep Corey and his fellow soldiers calm. After taking part in 60 missions, the pair flew home to the Dover Air Force Base in 2012, where they were separated. Corey headed to Colorado and Falco was sent to a canine facility in North Carolina. Corey thought of his partner often after the separation. 
This past Memorial Day, Corey received a call from a family in North Carolina with exciting news. They not only wanted Falco to be reunited with Corey, but they wanted Falco to live with him permanently at his parents’ home. Williamson was elated, but a little worried. Would Falco recognize him and would he be the same dog he left at the Dover Air Force Base four years ago?
According to Williamson, “My heart was pounding. Working with him, he kept me safe, along with the hundreds of other people I lead in patrols. I was nervous. I didn’t know how he would react.”
The first day of the reunion was a bit rocky — Falco was restless. But, after spending two days with his former combat partner, everything changed. The two played together and Falco returned to his usual energetic self. 
The two were inseparable in Afghanistan and they now do everything together at their home in Seaford. “He’s got to be with me. If I go anywhere, he’s there,” said Corey. 
Falco and the former U.S. Army specialist both suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the reunion has been beneficial to them both. “It means everything to have him back here with me,” said Corey. “I struggle with PTSD and to have him back, it means a lot. I’m not as high strung. I feel calmer. I’m not checking over my shoulder anymore. He suffers from PTSD too, and I think getting back together has really helped both of us out, mentally and physically, because I run the heck out of him.”
Greg, Corey’s father, said he didn’t really want a dog living in his home, but made an exception for Falco, a decision he doesn’t regret. Greg now adores the German shepherd, and they play fetch every night. According to Greg, “I always said I didn’t want a big dog in my house; but he’s here to stay.”
The Williamsons said Falco is now part of their family and they plan to spoil him rotten. They are also relieved that both Falco and Corey returned home safe from war — grateful the two can now once again count on each other for support.
 

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