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DES MOINES, Iowa — A gripping photo of slain Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson's faithful Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, lying next to the Iowa native's flag-draped coffin last week has launched intense interest on the Internet and international media coverage.
News photographers weren't allowed inside the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock gym for last Friday's service, which was attended by more than 1,000 people, including some of Tumilson's fellow SEALs. But his cousin, Lisa Pembleton, couldn't resist recording the striking image of Hawkeye, appearing to guard his slain master.
Hawkeye led the family into the gym for the funeral before accompanying Tumilson's friend, the dog's new owner, to the stage during the service.
Pembleton could not be reached for comment. She released a statement to California-based Home Post, a blog about military life and families, that read: "I hadn't planned on taking any pictures other than with family. However, from my seat at the funeral, I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle."
Tumilson, 35, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school in 1995, was among 30 Americans killed Aug. 6 when enemy forces in Afghanistan shot down a Chinook helicopter.