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Local marine back in Rochester - With best friend

Scituate, R.I./Brighton, N.Y. – It is the duty of a best friend to help get one through the most challenging of times. A duty Earl upheld with his partner, Marine Lance Corporal Bradley O’Keefe, and a duty that was returned.

Separated since 2010, O’Keefe, who lives in Brighton, reunited with his military working dog Earl in Rhode Island Friday, and by Saturday, they were back home - together - here in Rochester.

O’Keefe and Earl worked in Afghanistan, patrolling for explosives aimed at killing American soldiers.

“We were coming back to our base, and I saw him across the bridge to have him check it out, what was over there, see if there was anything. He does something with his tail when he catches on to something, and I noticed that, so I stopped the patrol,” Okeefe said.

Earl was on to something, but it was too late.

An IED had exploded.

O’Keefe suffered a concussion, a shattered tibia, and was evacuated from Afghanistan to the United States for treatment. Earl was struck by shrapnel, and was treated for injuries.

“If we just kept going, who knows what the casualties would have been,” O’Keefe said Friday.

Earl was eventually obtained by the Rhode Island State Police.

But his best friend didn’t forget him.

For the past three years, O'Keefe's sister, Rachel, had searched for Earl in the hopes that her brother and his dog could be reunited.

On Friday, they were.

The pair met at the Rhode Island State Police Headquarters, where a ceremony was held to celebrate their friendship, and their service.

On Saturday, Earl came back to Rochester with O'Keefe.

Side by side, once again.

"We're going to be spending as much time together as we can, to make up for the lost time," O'Keefe said.

 
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