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Sad news

By Al Henkel, NBC News producer
 
We have just learned of a dedicated, unsung hero who tirelessly helped wounded and disabled war veterans, died of a massive heart attack.
 
Janet Shamlian and I featured him in a story we did this past May.
 
 
We traveled to his house, tucked away in the hills of West Virginia, and were both amazed at his selfless dedication, the days and weeks of grueling physical training, and devotion to his family. His job was to help Sgt Clay Rankin, a soldier who came back from Iraq with terrible injuries. Sgt Rankin not only depended on this hero for physical help and rehabilitation, but help with emotional healing as well.
 
Sgt Rankin says his friend never stopped in his mission, "not only serving me but so many other Disabled Veterans that he and I visited on a regular basis, he literally worked himself to death, giving his life that others might benefit from his love and be able to move on".
 
Archie, an 8-year old black Labrador retriever, Sgt Rankin's service dog, and constant companion, died November 12th.
 
Sgt Rankin told us last spring, "I was unable to do anything by myself, I wasn't independent." "They wanted me to use a wheelchair, and I wasn't willing to do it. I was afraid that once I got into the wheelchair I wouldn't be able to get out, and I didn't want to do that."  With Archie's help, Sgt Rankin was able overcome some of the mobility issues his injuries caused him.  This week he said, "I apologize for not letting you know before now, but it has taken me a while just to get to this point where I can talk about it. He was not just a part of my body, but my soul as well, when he died a piece of me died with him."
 
He was matched with Archie by a Texas-based organization, Patriot Paws Service Dogs (http://www.patriotpaws.org/index.html
http://www.patriotpaws.org/index.html" href="http://www.patriotpaws.org/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.patriotpaws.org/index.html).
 
Rest in peace, Archie.