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Spirit of fallen war hero lives on in West Midlands Police dog JJ @dontditchthedogs

November 10, 2014, 9:57 am

British troops pulled out of Afghanistan at the end of last month bringing to an end a 13-year military campaign − but the withdrawal came too late for Joyce Doherty.

Joyces son Jeff − who served with the Parachute Regiment − was among the 453 soldiers who gave their lives to the conflict, killed during an intense fire-fight with Taliban forces that attacked their Helmand base on 12 June 2008.

He died just two days after his 20th birthday.

Joyce will spend tomorrows two-minute Armistice silence remembering him beside a fledgling tree planted in Coventrys Memorial Park in honour of her hero son.

But when the poppies retreat for another year the 40-year-old, from Southam, will continue to take comfort from a most unlikely source…a West Midlands Police dog.

Jet black German shepherd JJ was named after Private Doherty − known as JJ to family, friends and regiment colleagues − after Joyce met the forces police dog Breed Scheme manager Terry Arnett at a meeting of military charity Pilgrim Bandits.

Joyce explained: “Following JJs death we set-up the JJ Memorial Fund − a charity raising money for injured paratroopers and their families − and after getting to know Terry he suggested naming one of their new puppies after him.

“I thought it was a lovely idea…theyve kept me updated on his progress through training and Ive had the pleasure of meeting JJ and his handler Wayne several times.

“Hes a fantastic dog, full of life, very playful and from what Wayne tells me is full of fighting spirit…everything we remember of JJ himself.”

Puppy JJ was born into the West Midlands Police breed scheme on 2 March 2013 and, after coming through training with flying colours, turned operational alongside handler PC Wayne Mellings last month.

He hit the ground running and on his first outing on 27 October tracked down a suspected burglar hiding in an Acocks Green garden and sniffed out a glove believed to have been discarded by the man.

PC Mellings, said: “JJ found the glove and then tracked along alleyways towards a derelict garage. He wanted to scale the roof, indicating the suspect made off in that direction, and as we made our way through the adjacent garden the man emerged and surrendered.

“The following day we were called to a cannabis farm officers had discovered in Halesowen. One man had run from the back door but was found by JJ hiding behind a shed…and its fair to say he didnt get far when he tried to out run JJ.

“JJ has impressed everyone hes met with his search skills and work drive…apart from the criminals!”

PC Terry Arnett volunteers as an event co-ordinator for Pilgrim Bandits, a charity formed in 2007 by Special Forces veterans with the aim of using their unique training and experience to help and inspire wounded soldiers to live life to the full.

He added: “The Parachute Regiment motto is Utrinque Paratus: Ready for Anything − police dog JJ has showed hes operating in the regiments true spirit and I cant think of a more fitting tribute to Jeff and 2 Para.”

Private Jeff Doherty of 8 Platoon of C (Bruneval) Company, 2 Battalion Parachute Regiment died on 12 June 2008 after being engaged by the Taliban north of their base at FOB Gibraltar in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand Province.

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