By John Rutherford, NBC News Producer, Washington
This photograph shows Army Sgt. Peter Neesley feeding his dogs Boris (small) and Momma (large) in Iraq. Sgt. Neesley died in Baghdad on Christmas. The photo was sent by his cousin, Terrie Pawlyk, of West Milford, N.J., who is trying to bring Boris and Momma to America.
"On Christmas morning," she wrote, "2 military men knocked on my Aunt Chris's front door and they told her my cousin Sergeant Peter Neesley had died. This was his second tour of duty and he had five months to go. He even thought he would enlist again if he could stay in the states. To make sense of this war, he took care of stray dogs and he was going to bring home 2 dogs when his tour was over. He had made them a dog house.
"My aunt and cousins Carrie, Teddy and nephew Patrick are in shock and are numb. The one thing that would help is bringing home those 2 dogs. Our family has been in touch with a friend of Peter's over in Iraq and he is taking care of these 2 dogs and Peter's dog house. This would help the entire family if these two dogs were sent to live out their lives at Aunt Chris's. Please Help!"
If you can help in any way, please e-mail Terrie at email@example.com or put a message in our comment box.
Terrie's cousin was among four soldiers and one airman who died last week in Iraq and Afghanistan.
1. Air Force Senior Airman Nicholas Eischen, 24, of Sangor, Calif., died in his sleep Christmas Eve at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he was a hospital emergency room technician. His family knew of no health problems. Eischen is survived by his widow, Leah, and son, Braeden, 2. Eischen was the sixth graduate of his high school to die in Iraq or Afghanistan. "I hate to say this, but it makes you wonder, 'Who's next?'" his high school football coach told the Fresno Bee.
2. Army Sgt. Peter Neesley, 28, recently visited Pere Gabriel Richard Elementary School in his hometown of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich. He led the students in the Pledge of Allegiance and answered their many questions. "Thanks for spending valuable time with us, Sgt. Neesley," the school's newsletter said. "Don't forget to write and keep in touch." Neesley died Christmas Day in Baghdad of an undetermined cause. His death was under investigation. Neesley was with the Third Infantry Division.
3. Army Sgt. Bryan Tutten, 33, of St. Augustine, Fla., was expected home within a month from his second tour in Iraq. "It killed him that he was on his first tour when his daughter was born and was in Iraq when his son was born," his father-in-law told News4Jax. Tutten, with the 82nd Airborne Division, was killed on Christmas Day by a roadside bomb in Balad. He is survived by Constandina, his high school sweetheart and wife of 10 years, and their daughter, Catherine, 4, and infant son, Gareth.
4. Army Capt. Rowdy Inman, 38, of Panorama Village, Texas, was a graduate of Sam Houston State University and a veteran of Desert Storm. Inman, with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, was shot and killed Dec. 26 in Mosul by an Iraqi soldier. "Captain Inman was the finest example a officer should be," one of his soldiers told chron.com. "He always covered our backs no matter where we was at." Inman leaves his widow, Shannon, and children, Keeley, 7, and Gary, 4.
5. Army Sgt. Benjamin Portell, 27, of Bakersfield, Calif., was the middle of three brothers, all of whom served in the military. His older brother, Mike, currently serves in Iraq. "When he [Benjamin] signed up, he was out running, getting ready for the physical test, making sure he could pass all that," a friend told KGET. "He was gung-ho about it." Portell was less than two weeks into his second tour in Iraq when he was shot and killed along with Capt. Inman by an Iraqi soldier. Portell is survived by his wife of seven months, Michelle.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He posts a weekly tribute to service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan