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Dino attends his Marine master's memorial service

October 10, 2011 |  6:08 pm

Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Diaz, assigned to a battalion from Twentynine Palms, was one of the most experienced dog-handlers in the Marine Corps.

Marine dogs do a variety of high-risk combat chores: sniffing out weapons and drugs and helping in the take-down of suspects. The bond between dog and handler is exceptional, each trusting his life to the other.

When the 27-year-old Diaz, a third-generation Marine, deployed to Afghanistan, he was selected to support reconnaissance and special forces units on raids to kill or capture Taliban leaders in their Helmand province stronghold.

He was killed last week on one such raid -- mortally wounded while rushing to help a wounded Marine.

Over the weekend, the many Marines who respected Diaz gathered at Camp Leatherneck, the Marines' headquarters in Helmand province, to honor his memory and mourn his loss.

And in the front row, in a place of honor, was Dino, Diaz's working dog, maintaining a disciplined posture but seemingly unable to look at the large picture of Diaz at the front of the makeshift chapel.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Dino at the memorial service for his handler, Staff Sgt. Christopher Diaz. Credit: U.S. Marines / Navy Petty Officer 2nd-class Jonathan Chandler