Best Friends to the End

In a story that attests the inherent faithfulness of our beloved four-legged hunting and life companions, searchers in Colorado discovered a pair of golden retrievers guarding the body of their owner, a decorated, retired Air Force commander, nearly a month after he’d gone missing in the rugged mountain backcountry.

Col. Gary Lorenz, 63, a former commander at the Air Force Academy located in Colorado Springs, had been missing since Sept. 24, after he left on his ATV accompanied by his 3-year-old retrievers--litter-mates Merry and Pippen--to check on his horses. He never returned.
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Hunters reported discovering Lorenz’s body about 15 miles from his house on October 20. The two dogs--malnourished and thirsty--stood by the colonel’s side.

The Fremont County coroner subsequently ruled that Lorenz died Sept. 28, four days after he left, of hypothermia and dehydration.

A 1967 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Lorenz began his career flying combat missions in Vietnam aboard F-4 Phantom jets. He returned to the academy to serve as a squadron commander in 1986, and later became vice commandant of cadets.

During the 1990-91 Gulf War, Lorenz served as base commander of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, the main air combat base used in Operation Desert Storm.

Lorenz was buried with full military honors this week on the Academy grounds. The service included a 21-gun rifle salute, a C-21A jet flyover and the playing of taps as he was laid to rest.

During the entire service, the two faithful retrievers stood quietly beside the flag-covered casket. One newspaper reported that Lorenz’s widow had to coax the dogs to leave following the interment.

While Lorenz was remembered as a patriot, warrior, hero, father, husband, gentleman, classmate and friend, his daughter Deanna made a personal observation to the Canon City Daily Record.

“If you really want to know what kind of a person a man is, ask his dog,” she said.

We couldn't agree more.