Comecei a ler este livro no dia 27 de Dezembro e acabei no dia 28 de Dezembro de 2009.
Ao entrarem numa casa abandonada em Fallujah, no Iraque, alguns fuzileiros ouvem ruídos suspeitos, empunham as armas, contornam uma parede e preparam-se para abrir fogo.
O que encontram durante o ataque americano à "cidade mais perigosa do mundo," contudo, não é um rebelde apostado em vingar-se, mas um cachorrinho, abandonado durante a fuga da maior parte da população civil antes de começar o bombardeamento. Apesar da lei militar que os proíbe de ter animais de estimação, os fuzileiros tiram as pulgas ao cachorro com querosene, desparasitam-no com tabaco de mascar e empanturram-no com refeições de consumo imediato (RCI).
Inicia-se assim a dramática tentativa de resgatar um cão chamado Lava, que por sua vez irá salvar das feridas emocionais da guerra pelo menos um fuzileiro, o tenente-coronel Jay Kopelman.
Jay Kopelman, 46, was formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of the University of Miami, he began his military career in the U.S. Navy in 1985. He transferred to the Marine Corps in 1992, where he trained to become a forward air controller and earned his gold naval parachutist wings while assigned to 1st Air/Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.
In 1996, Jay left active duty to pursue opportunities in the Internet and financial services industries. He stayed active in the Marine Corps Reserve, and was recalled to active duty after September 11. During his career, Jay has made multiple overseas deployments to Okinawa, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, and twice to Iraq, participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
In September 2004, as the Special Operations Forces Liaison Officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), Jay deployed to Iraq to train the Iraqi Special Forces. In October, he was assigned as the liaison officer to an Iraqi Army battalion, and in November they entered Fallujah to battle insurgents for control of the city. It was there that he met and adopted Lava, a five week old puppy abandoned during the days before the invasion.
Following his return to the United States, based on his experiences in Iraq, Jay was asked to help train the Marines who would return to Iraq as advisors to the Iraqi armed forces and police. He most recently served as the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for advisor training at I MEF before leaving active duty on September 20, 2006. Jay will be retiring from the Marine Corps on January 1, 2007.
Jay is a competitive bicyclist, and is the 45+ squad leader for the Suncoast Velo/UC Cyclery racing team in San Diego. Jay also contributes his time and Lava's name recognition to the Helen Woodward Animal Center and Canine Companions for Independence to help raise awareness and money for abandoned and assistance animals. He also recently served on the board of directors of the Enduring Freedom Killed In Action Fund (http://www.killedinactionfund.org), an organization that provides grants to survivors of military members who are killed in action in the war on terror, but whose benefits are "lost" in the system. Jay donates a portion of his book proceeds to the Enduring Freedom Killed in Action Fund and the Freedom is Not Free Fund (http://www.freedomisnotfree.com). Both charities are 501c3 organizations dedicated to helping those serving the military and their families.
Jay lives in La Jolla, CA, with his wife, Pam; son Mattox; stepson Sean; their two dogs, Lava and Koda; and Cheddar the cat. Both Jay and his wife, an anthropologist, are avid surfers who make an annual pilgrimage to Costa Rica. They also spend time skiing, camping, waterskiing/wakeboarding and rock climbing.