By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2004 – A tiger-striped Iraqi kitten that wiggled its way into the hearts of a U.S. Army unit has made its way to the United States, thanks to a host of volunteers and two animal welfare groups.
Pfc. Hammer, an Iraq-born cat that befriended soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, during their deployment in Iraq, arrives in San Francisco, Calif., enroute to his new home in Colorado. Courtesy photo
Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, dubbed the tiny ball of fur that wandered into their tent early last fall "Pfc. Hammer."
"He was born at the site," said Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield. "There were two other kittens in the litter, but they ran away. He stayed and kept mice out of our living quarters and out of our dining facility."
Adopted by the troops, the young cat provided warmth and companionship in an otherwise hostile environment. When the unit was attacked by mortar fire, Hammer ran to the bunkers, where the nearest soldier scooped him inside his body armor to wait out the attack.
"He was like our stress therapist over there," Bousfield recalled. "You'd come in off raids where we'd been kicking in doors and guys would be sitting outside by themselves. He'd come over and take their minds off the war."
When Bousfield learned the unit was leaving Iraq to return to Fort Carson, Colo., he sent an e-mail asking for help to Alley Cat Allies, a national nonprofit clearinghouse for information on feral and stray cats, in Washington, D.C. The sergeant said he wanted to ensure his whole unit came home together, and that included Pfc. Hammer.
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