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Corky, a bomb-sniffing golden Labrador, wears a cone collar in the kennels at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he's awaiting transport to the United States. Corky is recovering from a gunshot wound he received  in northeastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province on Jan. 19, 2014.
Corky, a bomb-sniffing golden Labrador, wears a cone collar in the kennels at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he's awaiting transport to the United States. Corky is recovering from a gunshot wound he received in northeastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province on Jan. 19, 2014. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Corky, a bomb-sniffing golden Labrador, wears a cone collar in the kennels at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he's awaiting transport to the United States. Corky is recovering from a gunshot wound he received  in northeastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province on Jan. 19, 2014.
Corky, a bomb-sniffing golden Labrador, wears a cone collar in the kennels at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he's awaiting transport to the United States. Corky is recovering from a gunshot wound he received in northeastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province on Jan. 19, 2014. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
The cast Corky received at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, and a bullet fragment recovered from Corky's surgery at the Army's Dog Center Europe, at Pulaski Barracks, in Kaiserslautern, Germany, were saved for Corky's handler, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal.
The cast Corky received at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, and a bullet fragment recovered from Corky's surgery at the Army's Dog Center Europe, at Pulaski Barracks, in Kaiserslautern, Germany, were saved for Corky's handler, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Stidham, a K-9 liaison, leads Corky out of the kennels at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Corky was on his way to visit his handler, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Stidham, a K-9 liaison, leads Corky out of the kennels at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Corky was on his way to visit his handler, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
With his injured paw securely wrapped, Corky heads to a reunion with his handler, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
With his injured paw securely wrapped, Corky heads to a reunion with his handler, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Army Sgt. Eric Goldenthal opens his door at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to meet Corky after they both underwent surgery from gunshot wounds suffered during a mission in northeastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province on Jan. 19, 2014.
Army Sgt. Eric Goldenthal opens his door at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to meet Corky after they both underwent surgery from gunshot wounds suffered during a mission in northeastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province on Jan. 19, 2014. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Corky shows his affection for Sgt. Eric Goldenthal on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. They both received gunshot wounds to the leg while deployed to Afghanistan.
Corky shows his affection for Sgt. Eric Goldenthal on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. They both received gunshot wounds to the leg while deployed to Afghanistan. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Lisa Goldenthal, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal's wife, looks at the cast applied to Corky's injured leg at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Lisa Goldenthal, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal's wife, looks at the cast applied to Corky's injured leg at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Corky gets a pat from Sgt. Eric Goldenthal on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Corky gets a pat from Sgt. Eric Goldenthal on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. Eric Goldenthal and Corky reunite Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Sgt. Eric Goldenthal and Corky reunite Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Corky enjoys an ear rub from Sgt. Eric Goldenthal, his handler, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Goldenthal and Corky both were injured during an attack by Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
Corky enjoys an ear rub from Sgt. Eric Goldenthal, his handler, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Goldenthal and Corky both were injured during an attack by Taliban militants in Afghanistan. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. Eric Goldenthal's wife, Lisa, pets Corky on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.
Sgt. Eric Goldenthal's wife, Lisa, pets Corky on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

LANDSTUHL, Germany — When they arrived in Afghanistan at the end of September, Sgt. Eric Goldenthal and his bomb-sniffing dog, Corky, were already pretty close.

At Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., they were members of an engineer battalion. In Afghanistan, though, they were assigned to augment an already-tight-knit Special Forces “Alpha” team in a remote part of the country’s east. There, away from people they knew, their bond grew stronger.

“I think he was probably my best friend down there,” Goldenthal said of Corky. “I saw him every day. He slept in my room every day, woke up with me every day.”

Then, on Jan. 19, they were both shot.

Goldenthal, Corky and the Green Berets were four days into a 10-day mission to rout out Taliban militants in Kapisa province, an area of the country where few coalition forces are based.

The team had spent days pushing up a valley that had just one way in and one way out, Goldenthal said. They’d gotten into numerous firefights along the way.

Goldenthal and Corky led the way, looking for buried bombs as Special Forces soldiers on foot and in vehicles scanned the hills. The first ambush came about a half hour after they set out that day.

An hour later, they were in another skirmish, Goldenthal said. They had four trucks with heavy machine guns, and all were close to running out of ammunition. They needed to get out of the valley to their resupply point before that happened.

Then the third ambush came, Goldenthal said, bigger than the first two. “We had to push through it.”

He kept alongside the lead vehicle to keep from exposing himself and Corky to the machine gun rounds and rocket propelled grenades raining on the convoy from at least two directions.

Then, the Taliban opened up on the convoy from a third direction.

“And that’s when me and him got hit, pretty much the exact same time,” Goldenthal said. “I just felt it hit the back of my leg and then I heard him crying.”

Goldenthal threw a tourniquet on his own leg and a team medic attended to Corky, who was shot in the foot.

After pushing to the valley’s mouth, dog and handler were whisked away to Bagram Air Field on a medical helicopter.

Two days later, they both underwent surgery in Germany — Goldenthal at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Corky at the Army’s Dog Center Europe, about a 20-minute drive away.

They got to visit Monday at Landstuhl, where Corky jumped up on his handler to bathe his face in wet dog kisses.

“It’s only been a couple days,” Goldenthal laughed.

Their injuries led to an impromptu family reunion of sorts for Goldenthal, whose wife, Lisa, was in Germany visiting her parents when she got news of his having been wounded.

Her nerves have settled since the initial shock, she said, which left her speechless.

“But I’m glad that they are doing OK and that they only got shot in the leg,” she said. “It could have been worse.”

millham.matthew@stripes.comTwitter: @mattmillham

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