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Operation Bring Romeo home | San Diego Marines work to rescue puppy

After a deployment on the Island of Tinian, a battalion of Marines are on a new mission to bring Romeo back to San Diego.

SAN DIEGO — A Camp Pendleton Marine needs our help for a costly and daring mission to rescue a puppy that changed his life, and the life of his unit while they were stationed overseas. 

Staff Sgt. Phillip Bailey is the Detachment Leader for the 7th Engineers Support Battalion out of Camp Pendleton, recently deployed to the Island of Tinian in the Northern Marianas Islands near Guam. 

While they were deployed, two puppies showed up where they were living.  They brought the malnourished pair back to health and named them Romeo and Juliet. 

After just a month, Juliet vanished and they never saw her again. They poured their attention into Romeo. 

Bailey posted a video of how Romeo acts when he sees a Marine. 

“My Marines have grown extremely fond of him and they are often found sneaking him treats and letting him into the rooms. The dogs are typically not treated as well on the island which is a big reason why I do not wish to leave him here," Bailey said.

But he did have to leave him there. The Battalion recently came back to San Diego. “We're going to do whatever we have to, to get him back to the States,” Bailey said. 

He reached out to an organization called “Paws of War." Since 2014, they’ve helped hundreds of troops bring their rescued dogs and cats to safety in the U.S. 

“We have brought dogs back from every country we’ve had a military presence. Afghanistan. Iraq. Kosovo. Syria. Kuwait. They’re usually in bad shape. They’re generally emaciated. In most of these countries animals aren’t protected, they’re preyed upon. These American heroes do what they can to get them healthy, keep them safe, to give them, for the first time; these animals don’t know what it’s like to be held, pet, and fed on a consistent basis," Paws of War Co-Founder Robert Misseri said.

Yes, the Camp Pendleton Marines rescued Romeo, but Romeo rescued the Marines too. 

“When you have an animal outside your area that you know is not safe and you're able to feed that dog, you're able to give that dog water, friendship, love- he gives that back," Misseri said.

Now the Battalion, with Bailey as their leader, have a new mission: Bring Romeo back to San Diego. 

“I will be ensuring that Romeo makes it back to the United States where he can continue to receive the amount of love that he's accustomed to," Bailey said.

They have a trip scheduled for later this week. They dots are all lined up, they just need the money to make it happen. The trip, the medical costs, the quarantine, the red tape- costs $15,000. 

“Bringing a dog here from overseas is difficult and costly, especially when they are stationed in places without a commercial airport,” said Misseri. “Time is of the essence and we are doing everything we can to reunite these two. This is an expensive rescue, and we do not charge our heroic military a penny for these rescues. We couldn’t do this without the continued support of people in the community, who donate money to support missions like this. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank everyone for their assistance and for caring so much.”

Misseri continued, “It’s a very complex process. All of them are because we are in places that animals are not normally transported. The least we can do is get Romeo home safe to them and know that they never abandoned him. They're marines. They don't leave anyone behind.” 

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