A local military veteran's courageous service will soon be memorialized with a plaque on the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial.
Retired Navy SEAL Lloyd Wimberly raised more than the $1,800 needed in just one day with a Go Fund Me page.
"I wouldn't be here if he wasn't out in front of me and using his nose the way he did," Wimberly said of Cairo, a 12-year-old Belgian Malinois.
"He's my partner," Wimberly added. "He's my son, basically, but he's more than that because he's saved my life. He's saved the life of my teammates, and I owe him my life."
Wimberly and Cairo were nearly unstoppable during their three combat deployments together, and they are still inseparable.
"It's just a bond that's not ever going to be broken," Wimberly said.
These days, Cairo is enjoying life as a pampered pooch at their home in Clairemont. He has a little stuffed pony, a favorite teddy and a special diet.
"He has wheat allergies," Wimberly said with laughter.
But, make no mistake, Cairo was one of our nation's most ferocious fighting machines. His idea of going for a ride is not in the car.
"He's always the first one to the helo," Wimberly explained. "If he hears it coming, he runs out; that thing lands and he jumps in and gets his seat."
Wimberly fed Cairo before himself when they ran low on food because he counted on him. Their tight bond made them even more of a threat.
"Watching his ears, his eyes, his tail, his nose … I could tell exactly what he was finding," he explained.
Cairo sniffed out IEDs so troops did not step on them. When a cave or house was too dangerous for the team, it was Cairo who went in and took enemies down.
Cairo was the first to go in on some of the most dangerous missions. He saved the lives of too many servicemembers to count. They did not get the recognition they deserved because they were in special operations, but it seems, they did not need it.
"It's every day that I'm proud of him," Wimberly added.
Cairo will soon have a place in history for us all to honor him, and Wimberly knows time is one enemy they cannot stop together.
"I know that day is going to come, and it's not really easy to prepare for or think of, but we just love him every day," he said with a sniffle.
Wimberly raised nearly $700 more than the plaque costs, at last count. He said he plans to donate any extra money to working dog programs.
You can get more information here: https://www.gofundme.com/hz44ygzw.