Craig Grossi arrived by helicopter in the Sangin District of Afghanistan during the cover of night.
Grossi had to fight for his life for days after Taliban fighters attacked his unit when the sun rose.
According to Grossi, “It was a different kind [of fighting] than we’d ever seen.” “I was so focused on defending myself,” she said. “It was pretty fierce for a couple of days.”
When the fighting finally stopped, Grossi was able to take a look around. According to Grossi, “No [Americans] had been in that area in years.” He noticed a dog “with a big goofy head and little legs” as he peered around.
It was commonplace to see dogs. The majority of dogs were stray animals that frequently attacked humans and traveled in packs.
But this dog seemed different.
For one thing, he wasn’t part of a pack, but was all on his own. He also seemed relatively self-sufficient: He would find little scraps of food and take them to an area of bushes where he’d eat and sleep. On his way, he’d matter-of-factly walk across the marine compound.
“He was as confident as he was little,” Grossi remembered. “‘He’s got it figured out,’ I thought.”
But the military had a rule for the soldiers not to approach the dogs. “Up until that point I’d never had a problem with the rule,” Grossi said.
Grossi watched the dog for a while. “He was no one’s dog,” Grossi said, “and from what I could tell he had had no real positive human interaction.”
It soon became clear that Grossi would not be able to follow the rule about not getting close to the dogs. A piece of beef jerky in hand, Grossi made his way over to the dog, remembering to approach carefully.
When Grossi got a little closer, he noticed the dog was really dirty and was covered in bugs. But then the dog did something that totally surprised him, Grossi said: “He wagged his tail and it blew me away.”
When Grossi offered the dog some beef jerky, “he very politely took it,” Grossi said. How could this stray dog, who had no one in the world to care about him, be so good-spirited?
“I gave him a couple scratches behind the ear, and I couldn’t believe it,” Grossi added. The dog enthusiastically welcomed the affection.
Grossi rose up and started walking away. “I feel a tiny poke at my angle, I look down, and there he is, following me,” Grossi added. Grossi’s companion on the other side of the compound screamed across, “Looks like you made a friend,” but Grossi heard, “Looks like a ‘Fred.'” That’s how the name of this stray dog came to be.
Grossi was unaware that this was the beginning of an epic rescue narrative at the time. He and his battalion were engaged in combat at the time that all of this was taking place. They would check on civilian families at night because the Taliban was putting them in danger by using them “as human shields,” according to Grossi. In order to avoid being attacked, the Taliban made sanctuary in houses owned by civilians.
Fred joined us when we began going out at night, according to Grossi. He was concerned, though, that Fred might bark and draw attention to himself and the other marines. However, Fred learned not to bark and never made a sound.
Grossi claimed, “I’ve loved him ever since I first met him, but now all the other guys I was with really started to appreciate him.
But eventually it was time to go. The unit would relax for a few days before being sent somewhere in the nation when it was called back to the main base.
Grossi met down with Fred the evening before the unit was scheduled to depart to try to determine what to do. He and I were conversing, Grossi said. I stated, “If you want [to leave], I need a sign.”
The helicopter arrived the following day. It raised dust and debris as it hovered above the marines who were prepared to depart and fully loaded. Grossi was taking cover with his gang when he suddenly felt a familiar heel poke. Fred appeared.
Grossi recalled, “He was afraid but he was there, and I was like, “Okay, let’s go!”
The members of the unit were determined to conceal Fred’s presence, so he traveled in a duffel bag.
Grossi remarked, “I could go to jail if I got caught with him. And he would be executed without a trial.
When Grossi got to the base, he was able to sneak Fred into a friend’s pick-up truck without anyone seeing. As they were driving, Grossi observed a yellow sign with red letters that read: DHL. “We were in the field when [the shipping firm] set up a station. It was timed perfectly “explained Grossi.
That evening, he went over to the station to check it out, taking care to carefully inquire about how he would hypothetically convey a dog back to the United States. I kept repeating, ‘If I had a dog,'” Grossi recalled. But they recognized me immediately away.
The employees of the DHL facility came from a variety of Southeast Asian and African nations. Because it paid well and allowed them to send money home to their family, many people took this employment.
Grossi was urged to “bring the dog” by a man named Peter. The DHL men fell in love too after meeting Fred.
Grossi didn’t have time to put together the papers to ship Fred back to his parents’ house in the United States because he had to return to the field. While Grossi was away, the DHL employees agreed to watch for Fred for him.
This time, Grossi was injured in the field after being struck by a missile. He couldn’t help but think of Fred while he was in the hospital getting better.
As soon as he exited, he immediately headed to DHL to see Fred, but when he wasn’t there, he became concerned.
Grossi remarked, “I look around, but I don’t see Fred.” “But then I notice that the employees are jogging around with men from all over the world while playing soccer, with Fred in the middle. It was simply this global occasion.”
Grossi located a vet who was willing to examine Fred quickly. He prepared the paperwork for Fred’s travel. And Fred was on the verge of arriving in America.
However, a portion of the key was still missing. Grossi was unable to locate a crate for Fred to travel in. Grossi recalled, “I’m basically working my brain trying to figure this out.
He was in the base cafeteria one day when a marine he didn’t recognize waved to him. The marine remarked, “I am aware of Fred. And I wish to assist.
The marine could easily lend Grossi a spare crate because he was employed by the department that looked after military canines. It was flawless.
Grossi’s family traveled from Virginia to pick up Fred when he landed at JFK Airport in New York City.
On the conveyor line, customers were sending home rugs and carpets, among other items, according to Grossi. There was then this soiled dog.
Grossi joined Fred at home three months later.
Grossi began working for the government before deciding to pursue his education. He and Fred went coast to coast for eight weeks in the summer of 2015, sharing their tale with everyone who was interested.
Grossi, who formerly loved writing, has picked it up again since graduating from Georgetown University in May and is currently working on a book about Fred’s rescue.
Grossi added, “I repeated this story in some form wherever we went that summer, and people always appreciated different aspects of it. That, in my opinion, was extremely great.