03rd May 2017 19:52:33 Hours
Deeply moving members of the sappers, Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE) of the Army bade adieu to their mine-detecting German shepherd, Zira-Yankee during a fond farewell on the eve of the dog’s departure back to the US after a distinguished service of more than six years in Sri Lanka, having cleared over 62,680 sq meters of heavily mine-infested land areas in the war-affected North.
During her committed and distinguished service here with her fondly attached handler, Corporal T.K.D Rajapaksha of the Corps of Engineers, the dog, Zira-Yankee performed her risky, but the most accurate duty in Manthuvil, and Ananthapuram at Puthukkudirippu, Vellamullivaikkal, Mahamilankulama, Kumburumulla and Komanthurai areas and managed to recover 16 anti personnel mines, one hand grenade, 01 un-exploded explosive ordnance and 03 Rocket Propeller Grenades (RPGs).
Her departure was gratefully acknowledged on Sunday (30) at the Chief Field Engineer’s Headquarters at Mattegoda during a brief formal meeting after she was officially, delivered back to Ms Kimberly Mc Casland of the US-based Marshal Legacy Institute (MLI) by Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, Colonel Commandant, SLE in the presence of her affectionate handler, Corporal Rajapaksha who burst into tears as his service companion was taking leave of him after 6 years of intimate acquaintance.
Joining back home with the MLI in the US, Zira-Yankee, has been selected to spearhead another world-wide promotional campaign in the US on ‘Global Landmine Issue’, expected to be launched shortly by the MLI.
Born on 5 June 2009 in the US, Zira-Yankee arrived in Sri Lanka on 24 June 2011 and underwent training until 12 December 2011 before she joined the Army de-mining teams on duty in mine-infested areas. She had been of much assistance to the project and always stood by her handler, despite tropical climatic conditions and other concerns.
During the brief farewell meeting at Mattegoda, Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, Colonel Commandant, SLE appreciated the challenging roles of the departing dog and the support, being extended by the MLI for the noble task of Army de-mining in Sri Lanka. MLI has been in the practice of sending dogs of high breed to the Sri Lanka Army for training in de-mining for the last couple of years.
The official occasion was attended by Major General Dananjith Karunaratne, Chief Field Engineer and Brigadier S.J.M.A.R Seneviratne, Brigade Commander, Engineer Brigade who also spoke high of the dog’s contribution to the Army.
Zira-Yankee, along with the MLI representative left for the US on Tuesday (2).
Sri Lanka Army’s Mine Detection Dogs (MDD) have come in for praise of the international community during the past couple of years. The dog, ‘Alvin’ and its handler in the Army Mine Detection Team received the MDD Award of the Year 2016 recognizing the duo as the ‘MLI’s Team of the Year - 2016’ after inviting both of them to Washington.
Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Crisanthe De Silva several months ago invited Army MDD Teams to his office and appreciated their continuing services in the North and East.