Katrina: A hero's 'tail'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Heather L. Kelly
  • 920th RQW Public Affairs

Courage comes in many shapes and many sizes. During the first days of Hurricane Katrina search and rescue missions, many acts of courage were witnessed. This one came covered in fur. 

The story of the 301st Rescue Squadron rescue beagle begins Sept. 1 at the I-10 overpass in New Orleans. 

After setting down to take on multiple loads of stranded hurricane victims, 301st RQS helicopter pilots Capt. Mike Brasher and Maj. Robert Haston began to notice that each time they landed, a beagle would run toward the helicopter and station itself next to Senior Master Sgt. Pete Callina, one of the pararescuemen on board. 

“It was like she was helping us corral people into the helicopter. She was totally unafraid,” said Sergeant Callina. 

“While we were on our last run, it was obvious that she was an evacuee herself and didn’t belong to anyone on the overpass,” said Captain Brasher. “So we decided to take her with us,” he said. 

After entrusting the animal (then called “Barney”) to an emergency medical technician at a collection point, the crew hoped that the dog would get to an animal shelter. 

“After we got home, the impossible task of finding her began,” said Captain Brasher, who enlisted his wife Melanie in the cause. 

“After searching through thousands of beagle pictures online, we were able to locate her though petfinder.com,” said Captain Brasher. “She was with the Arizona Humane Society,” he said. 

The Brasher’s arranged to have the dog flown to Orlando, Fla., and to her new home and place as the 301st RQS mascot . The brave beagle has since appropriately been re-named “Katrina.”