By Army Spc. Andrew Orillion
Special to American Forces Press Service
|WILLIAMSBURG, Va., June 27, 2008 - On Aug. 19, 2006, the life of Army Capt.
James Barclay IV changed forever.
was in the lead vehicle of a convoy in a remote area of Afghanistan when a
roadside bomb tore through his vehicle. Barclay survived, but suffered burns
over 40 percent of his body.
Army Capt. James Barclay IV bonds with his
hunting dog, Bryant. A Williamsburg, Va., trainer donated his services to train
Bryant for Barclay, who was wounded in an Afghanistan roadside-bomb attack. U.S.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Laws
for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Barclay's life changed again June 24, but
this time for the better.
Marc Illman, owner of The Pet Resort at
Greensprings here, reunited Barclay with Bryant, a chocolate Labrador retriever
specially trained for hunting. Illman spent the last three months training the
dog while Barclay underwent treatment for his injuries.
Barclay's story began shortly after Barclay started his recovery at the Wounded
Warrior Center at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. A long-time
outdoorsman, Barclay was eager to return to hunting, his favorite pastime. He
adopted Bryant in August, but soon found that his injuries prevented him from
properly caring for the pooch.
"I had him for about three weeks," he
said. "Due to the surgeries, I wasn't going to able to do what I wanted to do
with him, and spend as much time as I should with him, so I sent him to my dad's
In March, Barclay's father, Army Brig. Gen. James Barclay III,
former director of U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Center for Operational
Analysis, brought Bryant and another pet to Illman for boarding. When Illman
found out about the situation, he volunteered to help train Bryant free of
"I'm thrilled to do this, and I hope the dog works out for him
and his family," Illman said. "These young men in the armed services really
don't have a choice. They're where they're told to go, when they're told to go
there, and no matter what your political ideals are, they're committed to serve
the armed services, and it's important they know that when they come home, as
opposed to other wars we've had, that they have some support."
training began with basic obedience training and socialization. Illman then
moved on to more hunting and outdoor-specific training such as running through
deep undergrowth and proper reaction to gunfire. He specifically trained the pup
to hunt both water fowl and upland birds such as quail and pheasant. Illman said
Bryant took easily to the training.
"What makes him really special is
that, sometimes you have a dog that's great around people [and] becomes a great
house dog. We call them 'couch potatoes,' Illman said. "But he also has the
ability to switch that off and become a great field-trial hunting dog."
The elder Barclay, who recently left JFCom to become commanding general
at Fort Rucker, Ala., said he's grateful not only for Illman's help, but also
for everyone who reaches out to wounded servicemembers in need.
great to have Americans who support our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,
and he is prime example of that kind of support that is willing to give and do
things for these kids," the general said. "We've got great Americans out there
that show their support in different ways for our kids. I think it's wonderful,
and folks like that need recognition."
As Barclay reunited with his old
friend, the two recognized each other right away and were inseparable from the
moment they were reunited.
"It really means a lot to see that people
here support me and the soldiers out here," Barclay said. "Hopefully, [Bryant
will] be my right-hand man."
In addition to Bryant, Barclay received a
free one-year supply of dog food and a weekend hunting trip at a resort in
With Bryant in tow, Barclay will head back to San Antonio to
continue his recovery. He said he hopes to be better in time for the
bird-hunting season in the fall.
"Once I get back, I'll start working
with him right away to try and create that bond you need in a hunting dog,"
(Army Spc. Andrew Orillion serves in the U.S. Joint Forces
Command Public Affairs Office.)
Editor's Note: To find out about more
individuals, groups and organizations that are helping support the troops, visit
www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil. America Supports You directly connects military
members to the support of the America people and offers a tool to the general
public in their quest to find meaningful ways to support the military community.