Linemate for Life: Captain Matched With Retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark Gwathmey

Photos: Capitals

After nearly two years of training and hard work and graduating from America’s VetDogs on Sunday, Captain’s moment has finally come. On Wednesday, the official service dog was matched with retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark Gwathmey.

Captain has been trained to assist Gwathmey, a St. Leonard, MD., resident, with several tasks and cues to help mitigate his veteran’s disability including retrieving dropped items, counterbalance, summoning assistance, seizure response, positional cues to extend personal space, and PTSD cues such as rest, nightmare interruption and shake.

Gwathmey has served the United States throughout the world, including in Desert Storm, Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, and Bosnia. For three years during a stateside assignment, he was a member of the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, which was responsible for the clean-up of the anthrax-infected Hart Senate Building and the two Washington, D.C., post offices after the anthrax attacks in 2001, known as Operation Noble Eagle.

Gwathmey’s first Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment was during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 where he was injured during a building collapse. During his second OIF deployment in 2004, Gwathmey blacked out following a combat mission and was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment. Upon returning to Iraq, and following the siege of Fallujah, he was injured during a combat operation. During a third tour in Iraq, Gwathmey was yet again injured during patrol when a series of IEDs exploded. The percussions from the explosions exacerbated his previous head injuries, and he suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI), which brought on a seizure disorder.

Upon Gwathmey’s medical retirement in 2011, after more than 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, he was hired by the U.S. Navy as a disaster preparedness specialist, where he continues to serve his country as a civil service employee.

Deana Stone, Captain’s former handler, called it a “joyous day” after “puppy-raising” him during his seventeen-month tenure with the Capitals. Kim Stasheff, who worked with Captain when he went back to AVD in Smithtown, New York in February, said the match is based on “personality” and “skill” and they also work with the veteran.

Photo: Capitals

“Captain helps give me comfort and security when I have my night terrors,” Mark said, adding, “What I hope to get out of this relationship between Captain and I is letting my family know that I’m well taken care of.”

Mark’s wife Carolyn called the experience “not just life-changing, but it’s life-saving.”

Fans were introduced to Captain during the Rock the Red Carpet event on October 5, 2019, prior to the Capitals’ home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes, making his first appearance with captain Alex Ovechkin and attending his first game that evening. He was with the Capitals for seventeen months as a part of his training to become a service dog. Captain attended his final Capitals game as a member of the team on February 20. He completed training camp and graduated from America’s VetDogs on Sunday.

By Della Young

Photos


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About Della Young

Della Young is a fiction writer based out of the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. area and an online student attending Full Sail University. She got her start in the entertainment industry at age seven as an actress. At the young age of nine, Della wrote a psychological thriller short story that sparked her interest in creative writing. She comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for sports. In her spare time, Della enjoys photography, traveling, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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5 Responses to Linemate for Life: Captain Matched With Retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark Gwathmey

  1. Scottlew73 says:

    Gods speed Captain,You’ll do fine!! We should all be so lucky to have as good of line mate as Captain!

  2. Tammy says:

    Congrats ,you got really good boy in Captain. Do great Captain.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Faith in humanity, restored.

  4. Jon Sorensen says:

  5. Lisa says:

    Thank you for your service, Master Sergeant. You have a good boy in Captain. Good luck and Semper Fi!

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