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By Dan Elliott - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Oct 28, 2011 14:46:35 EDT

DENVER — An Oregon soldier and his military working dog who were killed together in Iraq were honored Friday when a Colorado Army post named a dog park in their honor.

Cpl. Kory Wiens and the Labrador retriever named Cooper were killed by an improvised bomb while on patrol in 2007. Their ashes were buried together in Wiens’ hometown in Dallas, Ore.

His father, Kevin Wiens Sr., brother Kevin Jr. and sister Lindsay watched as the Cpl. Wiens and Cooper Dog Park was dedicated at Fort Carson, an infantry post just outside Colorado Springs.
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Wiens had no formal tie to Fort Carson, but officials there wanted to honor his memory, a spokesman said.

Pat McAlister, Wiens’ grandmother, said the family was moved by the gesture.

"We’re overwhelmed," she said in a telephone interview. "We’re touched, we really are".

Her late husband, Duane, was a military dog handler in Korea in the 1950s, she said. The family now displays side-by-side photos of grandfather and grandson with their dogs.

McAlister said she didn’t know what drew her grandson to become a dog handler but he grew close to Cooper.

"When he would come home on leave, he actually was more concerned [about Cooper] he couldn’t bring Cooper home and he would always say, ‘He’s like my kid.’"

The 20-year-old and Cooper, who was trained to sniff out explosives, were assigned to a mine dog detachment based at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

"They shared a room in Iraq, and each got a cot. And when the Army sent back his things, there were so many dog toys, she said."

Wiens planned to stay in the Army until Cooper was retired and then adopt him, McAlister said.

A kennel and veterinary facility at Fort Leonard Wood were named in Weins’ honor in 2007.

Killed in Iraq, dog team buried together (July 22, 2007)

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