“I came across it as I was getting ready to move, and I just started thinking about the encounter with the fella that I had on the morning that I was going up to Oso,” said Katherine Murphy, a Kitsap County Search Dogs volunteer, to Seattle’s KOMO News about the day a small Pacific Northwest town experienced the worst landslide in United States history.
Also, a blanket, her dog Hooligan, and yeah — that very special, yet mysterious Vietnam veteran.
Murphy and Hooligan were at a rest stop along Interstate 5, just before Darrington when a man approached them.
“It was pouring rain, freezing cold, sometime between six and seven in the morning. He asked if were going to Oso, asked if I had a search dog and said that he had something.”
Murphy said when the man learned the pair were headed to Oso to look for victims of the terrible landslide, he went back to his vehicle and brought back a special gift.
“Came back with the blanket in [a] bag and said, ‘this is my lucky blanket from Vietnam. I know in these conditions the dog is going to get hypothermic. It’s going to be really hard so I want you to wrap her up in it so that you can keep working to help find those people.”
She said she thanked the man and was so focused on the mission ahead of her and Hooligan in Oso, she forgot to ask his name, where he was from or for a return address.
And just like the vet predicted, Hooligan slipped into the drink a few times — frigid cold water — but because of the lucky blanket, he didn’t remained warm, and assisted in bringing the remains of four people killed by the disaster.
In all, 43 perished.
“I have a sense that the Vietnam vet had a better idea of what were getting into than I did.”
“I’d like him to know that his gift and his thoughtfulness definitely did keep her working out there and hoping to find those people so their loved ones would have some sort of closure.”