52-Year-Old Veteran And Service Dog Become Yale Freshmen Together


James Hatch is a veteran Navy SEAL who is no stranger to obstacles. He proudly served in the Navy for 26 years and successfully completed missions around the globe. Hatch spent much of his time in Iraq and Afghanistan where some of his most notable comrades had four legs and a tail. Those tours of duty didn’t come without a price, however.

A Dog Laid Down His Life For Hatch

As a dog handler in the Navy, Hatch completed 40 missions with his first four-legged combat partner, Spike. Sadly, Spike died in combat along with three other K-9 partners over the years. Hatch has been diagnosed with PTSD and has difficulty walking after being shot in leg on one particularly haunting mission. Hatch has said he owes his life to his K-9 partners who were able to alert him to danger that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Now that he is engulfed in civilian life, things are no different. 

@ReginaMobley/Facebook

Enter Mina. She is 60 pounds of beauty, energy, and love. Mina helps Hatch navigate the everyday obstacles of civilian life. 

“Mina will just sit behind me and it just makes me feel like, OK, if somebody wants to do anything, they’ll have to go through Mina,” Hatch told cbsnews.com.

She even sat alongside Hatch while he tearfully testified in the highly publicized trial regarding former Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and the killing of Remco, one of Hatch’s K-9 comrades. Remco was killed in combat and Hatch was shot in his right leg while on a mission to rescue Bergdahl after Bergdahl voluntarily left his post in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported that Hatch ultimately required 18 surgeries. The injury ended his military career but his story is far from over.

New Endeavors And New Beginnings

In addition to writing a memoir, Hatch started Spike’s K-9 Fund which aims to help war dogs returning home to civilian life. But, now this determined 52-year-old has a new endeavor. Hatch recently enrolled as a freshman at Yale! And you guessed it- Mina is right by his side! She attends all of the classes with Hatch and she has already captured the hearts of their fellow students.

Photo Via spikesk9fund.org

“This is a pic taken with some of the smart people I run into every day here at Yale University. Mina has been widely accepted here. Probably more so than the old guy with all the tattoos!” Hatch joked on his blog.

Hatch is the newest student in Yale’s Directed Studies Program which teaches students how to analyze texts and write persuasive essays.

“My experience in academia is somewhat limited, at best,” he said. “But I want to learn, and I feel this can make me a better person. I also feel my life experience, maybe with my maturity — which my wife would say is laughable — I think I can help some of the young people out,” Hatch said to wzzm13.com.

Hatch says he is nervous that he may be too old or won’t fit in with other students, but that isn’t stopping him, or Mina, from continuing to leave their mark on the world.

Photo Via spikesk9fund.org

h/t: cbsnews.com
Featured Photo: spikesk9fund.org

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