NASHVILLE, N.C. (NewsNation Now) — Family members helped surprise a Fort Bragg soldier by reuniting him with his military K-9 he served with overseas after more than a year apart.
Army Sgt. Nicholas Milano walked into his Nash County backyard to a crowd of people gathered for his birthday celebration.
To his surprise “Lion,” a 10-year-old German Shepherd, made a beeline for him.
“I had zero idea, this is crazy,” Milano told NewsNation affiliate WNCN.
Milano and Lion traveled the world with the U.S. Army for almost seven years. The pair even went to war together, serving two deployments in Afghanistan.
“His job was either to bite people, which he never had to do. Or find bombs, weapons, caches,” explained Milano.
When Milano got orders for Fort Bragg, the two had to part ways.
“That sucked, it was really hard,” Milano said of having to leave Lion at the base in Germany. “I was promised he’d come with me when he retired, but you never know, you never know what happens.”
Once Lion retired, Milano’s wife Kristy secretly adopted him.
“This dog has saved my husband’s life, more than once, along with others,” said Kristy. “So he means a lot to us.”
She worked with Mission K-9 Rescue to make the reunion happen. The nonprofit paid to fly Lion from Germany to Houston. Once he arrived in Texas, a staff member drove 20 hours to reunite him with Milano in North Carolina.
After a long military career, Lion will get to spend his retirement relaxing and adjusting to being a normal dog.
“He’s in retirement now, he gets to live on the couch and he’ll be sleeping in bed with me and you,” Milano laughed while looking at his wife. “Yeah, letting him live the rest of his life well.”