War dog memorial funds raised - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

War dog memorial funds raised

Posted: Updated:
CODY, Wyo. -

More than $140,000 was raised online to build a memorial to a War dog and his handler form Powell. So much money came in, the memorial was funded in just four hours.

Veterans Day, 2015, a Belgian Malinois, Major Mike was laid to rest in Powell, with full military honors.  He had served two tours of duty in Iraq with retired special operations Sgt. Matthew Bessler, and was Bessler’s service dog when he was shot in front of his home in Powell.

Soon, a larger than life bronze statue of Matt and Mike will be erected at Wyoming’s Veteran’s Memorial Park in Cody.  A recent national online fund raiser brought in $142,000 for the War and Service Dog Memorial.  Chive Charities kicked it off with $60,000. Jona Vanata with Families on the Frontline, worked with them from her computer in Cody.

Vanata said,  “I am responding to those donors and thanking them from Families on the Frontline, and partnering with Chive Charities.”

Vanata said her thank you notes got thank you notes from the donors in return.

She explained, “I would get pictures of other service dogs. Pictures of pets. Pictures of war dogs…”

Matt Bessler is touched by the national outpouring of recognition for his companion.  

He remarked, “It gives me hope that others can see the same thing, and that their dogs will not go unnoticed or unrecognized.

Veteran’s Memorial Park Organizer Buck Wilkerson explained why Major Mike received full military honors.

Wilkerson said, “The dog had been awarded with two bronze stars, and was credited with saving a lot of lives in Iraq.”

Wilkerson started the fundraising for the bronze after a friend brought him an idea right after the service.

Carol Armstrong was having breakfast with Jona Vanata, when she had the idea, “…and we thought, maybe something could be done to remember the dog.”

Matt and Mike were the models for Cody sculptor John Phelps.  Phelps’ son, Chase, was the subject of an award winning HBO film about bringing a fallen warrior home.  

Phelps said his son died in Iraq in 2004, while trying to protect others,  “And he positioned himself between the disabled Humvee so that they could evacuate the wounded out of it.  And then the 2nd Humvee was General Kelly.”

Phelps is known for his military bronzes and art.  So, he was the choice to create the War Dog memorial.

He remarked, “It’s definitely an honor.”

Wilkerson says the memorial will be dedicated in June, 2018. From Cody, Penny Preston, News 13.

More than enough money was raised for the War and Service Dog Memorial. The surplus will be used to start the next project: A memorial to honor women who served or are serving in the United States military.

  • LocalMore>>

  • Clues to Yellowstone's next possible supervolcano

    Clues to Yellowstone's next possible supervolcano

    Friday, October 20 2017 1:08 AM EDT2017-10-20 05:08:19 GMT
    Steam phase eruption of Castle Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mila ZinkovaSteam phase eruption of Castle Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mila Zinkova
    Scientists say there could be clues to Yellowstone’s next supervolcano eruption, decades before it erupts. But, they emphasize there is no indication now the volcano will erupt anytime soon, if at all. Yellowstone National Park holds the earth’s largest concentration of thermal features. They are all part of one of the world’s largest active volcanos. The Supervolcano erupted three times in this area in the last two million years.  One of those erupti...
    Scientists say there could be clues to Yellowstone’s next supervolcano eruption, decades before it erupts. But, they emphasize there is no indication now the volcano will erupt anytime soon, if at all. Yellowstone National Park holds the earth’s largest concentration of thermal features. They are all part of one of the world’s largest active volcanos. The Supervolcano erupted three times in this area in the last two million years.  One of those erupti...
  • What is Montana's favorite spooky movie?

    What is Montana's favorite spooky movie?

    Thursday, October 19 2017 9:44 PM EDT2017-10-20 01:44:36 GMT

    Every person and state has their favorite spooky movie to watch during the month of October. So what is Montana's favorite spooky kid's movie?

    Every person and state has their favorite spooky movie to watch during the month of October. So what is Montana's favorite spooky kid's movie?

  • Police used patrol rifles in officer-involved shooting

    Police used patrol rifles in officer-involved shooting

    Thursday, October 19 2017 9:07 PM EDT2017-10-20 01:07:29 GMT

    Wednesday, KULR-8 told you about an officer-involved shooting at the Lazy K-T Motel. Police officers used their patrol rifles instead of handguns to alleviate the threat from a man armed with a shotgun.

    Wednesday, KULR-8 told you about an officer-involved shooting at the Lazy K-T Motel. Police officers used their patrol rifles instead of handguns to alleviate the threat from a man armed with a shotgun.

  • Most Popular

  • Regional NewsMore>>

  • PHOTOS: Bomb-sniffing CIA dog fired for not sniffing bombs

    PHOTOS: Bomb-sniffing CIA dog fired for not sniffing bombs

    Thursday, October 19 2017 1:56 PM EDT2017-10-19 17:56:06 GMT

    WASHINGTON - You know they old saying, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."  Some aren't fortunate enough (or brave enough) to live by that motto, but a pup in training to sniff out explosives in the CIA obviously wasn't digging what she was doing, so she's moving on. Hopefully to something she enjoys more. 

    WASHINGTON - You know they old saying, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."  Some aren't fortunate enough (or brave enough) to live by that motto, but a pup in training to sniff out explosives in the CIA obviously wasn't digging what she was doing, so she's moving on. Hopefully to something she enjoys more. 

  • $1.2 million worth of drugs found after Moses Lake traffic stop

    $1.2 million worth of drugs found after Moses Lake traffic stop

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 9:08 PM EDT2017-10-19 01:08:51 GMT

    MOSES LAKE, Wash. - A traffic stop in Grant County ended up being a major drug bust.  About two weeks ago on October 5, during a traffic stop, Moses Lake Police Department Officers found a man with nearly 80 pounds of meth and heroin in his car.

    MOSES LAKE, Wash. - A traffic stop in Grant County ended up being a major drug bust.  About two weeks ago on October 5, during a traffic stop, Moses Lake Police Department Officers found a man with nearly 80 pounds of meth and heroin in his car. Through additional search warrants, law enforcement officials found 25 more pounds of meth, seven pounds of heroin and 40 pounds of marijuana. 

  • The most popular Halloween candy by state

    The most popular Halloween candy by state

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 5:43 PM EDT2017-10-18 21:43:43 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - When it comes to candy, I'm more of a fruity-flavored guy. Skittles, Starburst, and my favorite, Mike and Ike. But if I want to fit in, I'm gonna have to move to North Dakota, Indiana or Florida because that's where those are the most popular according to one website.

    SPOKANE, Wash. - When it comes to candy, I'm more of a fruity-flavored guy. Skittles, Starburst, and my favorite, Mike and Ike. But if I want to fit in, I'm gonna have to move to North Dakota, Indiana or Florida because that's where those are the most popular according to one website.  Halloween candy is a big industry. REALLY big. Billions of dollars will be spent this year on candy for trick-or-treating, but not all of it will be spent wisely.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Social media post causes statewide outrage

    Social media post causes statewide outrage

    Thursday, October 19 2017 8:40 PM EDT2017-10-20 00:40:18 GMT

    A Facebook post criticizing Governor Steve Bullock is going viral and it's causing quite a stir. Several people are reporting on social media that the post was enough for them to cancel their cable subscriptions.

    A Facebook post criticizing Governor Steve Bullock is going viral and it's causing quite a stir. Several people are reporting on social media that the post was enough for them to cancel their cable subscriptions.

  • Police used patrol rifles in officer-involved shooting

    Police used patrol rifles in officer-involved shooting

    Thursday, October 19 2017 9:07 PM EDT2017-10-20 01:07:29 GMT

    Wednesday, KULR-8 told you about an officer-involved shooting at the Lazy K-T Motel. Police officers used their patrol rifles instead of handguns to alleviate the threat from a man armed with a shotgun.

    Wednesday, KULR-8 told you about an officer-involved shooting at the Lazy K-T Motel. Police officers used their patrol rifles instead of handguns to alleviate the threat from a man armed with a shotgun.

  • State of Emergency declared in Florida for Richard Spencer's speech

    State of Emergency declared in Florida for Richard Spencer's speech

    Thursday, October 19 2017 11:34 AM EDT2017-10-19 15:34:06 GMT

    The controversial figure with ties to Montana is scheduled to speak this afternoon.

    The controversial figure with ties to Montana is scheduled to speak this afternoon.

  • Montana hunting group has beef with Arby's

    Montana hunting group has beef with Arby's

    Thursday, October 19 2017 8:24 AM EDT2017-10-19 12:24:42 GMT

    The Montana Wildlife Federation is asking Arby's to reconsider its limited edition rollout of venison and elk sandwiches.

    The Montana Wildlife Federation is asking Arby's to reconsider its limited edition rollout of venison and elk sandwiches.

  • What is Montana's favorite spooky movie?

    What is Montana's favorite spooky movie?

    Thursday, October 19 2017 9:44 PM EDT2017-10-20 01:44:36 GMT

    Every person and state has their favorite spooky movie to watch during the month of October. So what is Montana's favorite spooky kid's movie?

    Every person and state has their favorite spooky movie to watch during the month of October. So what is Montana's favorite spooky kid's movie?

  • UPDATE- Officers on 'leave', suspect in critical condition after Billings shooting

    UPDATE- Officers on 'leave', suspect in critical condition after Billings shooting

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 10:09 AM EDT2017-10-18 14:09:46 GMT

    BILLINGS- An officer involved shooting at the Lazy KT Motel in Billings has left a suspect in critical condition this morning and two officers on leave. The shooting took place early Wednesday morning at the motel which is located on 1st Avenue North. 

    BILLINGS- An officer involved shooting at the Lazy KT Motel in Billings has left a suspect in critical condition this morning and two officers on leave. The shooting took place early Wednesday morning at the motel which is located on 1st Avenue North. 

  • Pair charged with murder, dismemberment threatening to kill guards

    Pair charged with murder, dismemberment threatening to kill guards

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 12:56 PM EDT2017-10-18 16:56:00 GMT

    Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst is asking for Augustus Standingrock’s and Tiffanie Pierce’s access to the law library be revoked. Standingrock and Pierce are facing charges for the murder and dismemberment of 15-year-old Marilyn Pickett and 24-year-old Jackson Wiles. 

    Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst is asking for Augustus Standingrock’s and Tiffanie Pierce’s access to the law library be revoked. Standingrock and Pierce are facing charges for the murder and dismemberment of 15-year-old Marilyn Pickett and 24-year-old Jackson Wiles. 

  • Man sentenced for beating wife after dreaming she cheated on him

    Man sentenced for beating wife after dreaming she cheated on him

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 3:58 PM EDT2017-10-18 19:58:14 GMT

    EYNON, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man who dreamed his wife was cheating on him and then woke up and tried to strangle her has been sentenced to six to 12 years in prison. WNEP-TV reports Conrad Rudalavage, of Eynon, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in June and was sentenced Tuesday.

    EYNON, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man who dreamed his wife was cheating on him and then woke up and tried to strangle her has been sentenced to six to 12 years in prison. WNEP-TV reports Conrad Rudalavage, of Eynon, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in June and was sentenced Tuesday.