Best Human Interest Story of 2011….

I remember when I first saw this story on line.  I just stared at the picture and thought what a bond Hawkeye had to his to his friend and master.  Amazing how he could know, and to mourn like all the others who knew Jon was something I had not seen before.

Faithful to the last: slain Navy SEAL’s dog stays by his side at funeral.

It was at his side in life … and refused to be parted from him in death.

As the US mourned at the funeral of Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, 35, who was one of 38 killed when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan early this month, it was a photo of his pet dog Hawkeye lying by his former master’s coffin throughout the ceremony that has captured hearts around the world.

The photograph, which was taken by Petty Officer Tumilson’s cousin Lisa and posted on Facebook, has made its way around the globe since the funeral last week.

Loyal to the end ... Hawkeye lies beside the coffin of US Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson during his funeral.

“I took this picture and that was my view throughout the entire funeral. I couldn’t NOT take a picture,” Ms Tumilson told US television network ABC News.

“It took several attempts since every time I wasn’t crying and could focus on taking it, there was a SEAL at the microphone and I didn’t want to take a picture with them for security and respect reasons. Our family is devastated to say the least.”

Petty Officer Tumilson’s faithful Labrador retriever led his family down the aisle into the funeral service in Rockford, Iowa, and followed his friend Scott Nichols as he rose to deliver a eulogy, television network MSNBC reported.

It then heaved a sigh and dropped down on the ground in front of Petty Officer Tumilson’s casket as the speech started and more than about 1500 mourners watched on, the report said.

“If J.T. had known he was going to be shot down when going to the aid of others, he would have went anyway,” his friend Boe Nankivel said at the service.

News photographers were not allowed into the service, as it was attended by other SEALs whose identities cannot be revealed for security reasons.

Petty Officer Tumilson joined the US Navy in 1995 and was awarded the Purple Heart and Defence Meritorious Service Medal posthumously.

Mr Nichols will look after Hawkeye, television station KTLA said.

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