The loyal Navy SEAL dog named Hawkeye who captured millions of hearts when he lay at the foot of his master’s casket has found happiness and comfort in a new home.
Slain Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson’s longtime friend Scott Nichols and his family are Hawkeye’s new owners, confirms Carol Darby, a public affairs officer from Fort Bragg supporting the Tumilson family.
“Scott is Hawkeye’s new owner and that is according to Jon’s wishes,” said Darby. “He’s very happy. He’s with a family that he has known for a long time and that has loved him for a long time.”
The Nichols family cared for Hawkeye when Tumilson was away on duty. Darby said that Hawkeye has gained a human family and a dog family, including two or three other Labradors owned by the Nichols.
Hawkeye may find himself in the limelight once again in November when the University of Iowa’s football team the Hawkeyes honors fallen service men and women, including Iowa native Tumilson, at a home game in November. The university is working with the Tumilson family to determine what role the dog will play in the day’s events. Some have suggested that Hawkeye the dog could lead the Hawkeyes onto the field on game day.
“Jon’s death is a tragedy that reminds us of the great personal sacrifice made by many who serve our country, our state, and our community,” said University of Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta in a statement. “We are very pleased that Jon’s family has agreed to allow us to honor Jon and all citizens lost while serving others later this fall.”
The world first fell in love with Hawkeye after seeing a photo of the canine at Tumilson’s funeral in Rockford on Aug. 19 where his beloved canine lay at the foot of the casket throughout the ceremony. Tumilson’s cousin Lisa Pembleton took the heart-wrenching photo of the devoted dog, known to Tumilson’s family and friends as his “son.”
“I took this picture and that was my view throughout the entire funeral. I couldn’t NOT take a picture,” Pembleton said.
Darby also said that while the Tumilson family appreciated the outpouring of love and support coming from the photo, they want people to remember that 30 people lost their lives that day.
Tumilson’s family has started a memorial fund and contributions can be made to Frogman 238 Memorial Fund, First Security Bank and Trust, 201 West Main Ave., Rockford, IA 50468.