It was a hero's welcome Thursday in Bloomfield. The community lined the streets to cheer on the arrival of its newest member.
It's day two of retirement for the war vet. The town may be new to retired General Jjackson, but he's no stranger to the Greene County Sheriff's Deputy who's made it his mission to give him a permanent home.
"They're just meant to be together. They've been apart for so long and he's being retired now and he needs to be with his partner," says Marcy VanDeventer. She's part of the crowd that gathered at Bloomfield City Hall Thursday afternoon to wave American flags and welcome General Jackson.
It's a reunion that's been years in the making. It started with a promise that Air Force Technical Sergeant Harvey Holt of Greene County made to his K-9 partner, Jjackson, when they parted ways seven years ago after four years together.
“I had made him a promise in Iraq that I would bring him back--if he brought me back safe, I would have brought him back and gave him a good home the rest of his life," says Holt.
That's what's going to happen.
Holt got the phone call last week. After years of checking up on his partner and trying to secure his adoption, he was scared he was about to hear that Jackson had died.
The news was much better.
"His first question out of his mouth was did I still want Jjackson, and I was in shock for a second and I remember saying, 'Yes, when do I get there?'"
With financial help from Cook Inc., Holt flew to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland Wednesday. He wondered if 10-year-old Jjackson would remember him, but it was actually the other way around.
"When I first saw him coming out of the kennels I didn't even recognize him. He was a young pup when I gave him up and he's an old chunky man now," says Holt.
That old man needs some TLC in his retired life. The Holts say he'll get it at their home alongside several other Belgian Malinois dogs.
"He'll still be spoiled. He'll be one of the babies," says Deborah Holt, Harvey's wife.
Community donations will help build a specialized kennel, but money is still needed to help pay for Jjackson's medical needs. His well-worn legs are in need of a tune-up and he'll likely have to see an orthopedic surgeon.
There's an account set up in Holt's name with the Homes for Heroes fund at Bloomfield State Bank branches.
"It's been awesome. We've had people wiring money from all different states. We've had people mailing them in from all over," says VanDeventer, who set up the account.
Holt says without the community's support he wouldn't have been able to fulfill his promise.
"I'm shaking now. I still can't wait to get him home and have a one-on-one time with him," says Holt.
It's the outcome that Holt has always wanted for his partner on the battlefield.
"He made a promise to him when he was in the services and now I know he'll sleep better; sleep a lot better knowing he's finally able to fulfill that," says Deborah.
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