"It obviously had been abandoned. There was no mother around… It was very, very young, so if they would have left it there, it would have never made it," said Teri Lemmons, mother of Army Cpl. Michael Lemmons.
The soldiers adopted the afghan mix puppy, and she soon became part of the brigade.
"You know, we'd go out for physical training and she'd go run with us, she would stand in formations with us," Lemmons said. "She did everything, so she was one of us."
But by military law, they weren't allowed to bring her home -- not on a military plane and certainly not on the military's dime. Lemmons phoned his mother, asked for help, and she came through. Teri Lemmons raised the money, and Ally arrived at Kennedy International Airport in New York two weeks before the soldiers came home.
"The actual shipping cost to get the dog from Afghanistan to New York was a total of $2,500 that we had to raise," Teri Lemmons said.
"Dogs in Afghanistan have a very short lifespan, and he [Cpl. Lemmons] didn't want that to happen to this dog, what happened to the last dog that got caught in crossfire. And so he was like, 'We need to get this dog home,'" she said.
Pilots N Paws, a company that flies dogs around the country for free, picked up Ally in New York, and flew her to Morgantown, W.Va., and from there to Louisville, Ky., where Teri Lemmons was waiting.
Jerry Sica, the pilot who flew Ally, said he's proud to help reunite these rescued pets with returning soldiers.
"They [the soldiers] call us the heroes, you know, that we're helping them out… and I'm just like, 'Listen, guys, you know we're just doing our part. You guys are the heroes,'" he said. "Doing what you're doing out there, and if we can just spend a couple days out of a weekend helping you guys out, you know it's our duty and our pleasure to do so."
Soldiers Return Home to Hero's Welcome
After two tours in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, Lemmons and the other soldiers of the 101st came home to a hero's welcome at Ft. Campbell, Ky., Nov. 18.
His mother was there along with the rest of his family, and so was his beloved dog that had travelled so far.
"She was very important -- she was very important to everybody, because in places like that, you don't really have very much," Lemmons said. "Anything in general that brings happiness to soldiers is always good, and having a puppy was like having a part of our homeland with us there."
He said he's happy to be home, and happy she's home, too.