Smoke the donkey heading to the U.S.
Smoke the donkey, the former mascot for 1st Marine Logistics Group in Iraq, could be in the U.S. by the end of January.
Marines were forced to abandon their beloved Iraqi-born mascot when they withdrew from Camp Taqaddum, near Fallujah, more than two years ago. But the camp’s former commandant, retired Col. John Folsom, has been on a quest since October to bring the donkey to Nebraska.
With the help of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International’s “Operation Baghdad Pups,” Smoke, as of Jan. 19, was waiting to hop a flight out of Arbil, Iraq.
Smoke became 1st MLG’s mascot after a sergeant caught him roaming the base and tied him up outside Folsom’s tent. Marines, who named him for his grey color and his affinity for cigarettes, were able to skirt regulations barring troops from keeping pets in a warzone after a Navy lieutenant supported designating him a therapy animal.
Tracking Smoke down proved challenging. A local sheik who works with U.S. forces said Smoke was in possession of a family who asked for $30,000 for the animal. Folsom scoffed at the amount, and the sheik eventually agreed to obtain the animal free of charge.
Folsom hopes Smoke can work at Wounded Warrior Family Support as a therapy animal for children. The non-profit organization, founded by Folsom, works to help the families of killed and wounded service members.