ERIC GRAY, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FIRE:
“Just being at this deployment to Japan was life-changing for me. We were surrounded by complete destruction. I realized that the objects I was walking on had come from somewhere else far away. At first, it was challenging just to get your head around it all. Seeing the dogs function in this extreme search environment completely validated the training we have done.”
This was SDF’s 76th deployment, and the first international deployment for Search Teams Eric Gray & Riley and Linda Tacconelli & Joe. The other four SDF teams deployed to Japan—Ron Horetski & Pearl, Bill Monahan & Hunter, Jasmine Segura & Cadillac, and Gary Durian & Baxter—are veterans of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake deployment where they helped bring 12 people to safety.
SDF FOUNDER WILMA MELVILLE WAS THERE WHEN THE TEAMS RETURNED:
“Last night I was at the Task Force facility near Los Angeles to welcome home our Search Teams from their deployment to Japan. You can imagine my joy, relief, and pride, when I saw the buses carrying the 72 members of Los Angeles Task Force 2 roll into the receiving area. The handlers looked tired and relieved, but also cheerful and upbeat, and so proud of their dogs! The welcoming crowd was full of warmth, admiration and appreciation. Though no survivors were found during the search, we are all so grateful to the teams, knowing they brought comfort to the devastated community, assuring residents that everything possible had been done to find survivors.”
Our deepest thanks to the Search Teams for your sacrifice, determination, and dedication to making sure NO ONE WAS LEFT BEHIND.
To all of SDF’s supporters, please know how grateful we are to you for your friendship, and for keeping the teams in your thoughts and prayers over the past week. It has meant the world to us, and to them.