Retired United States Army First Class Sergeant Luciano Yulfo was being honored recently at a New York Knicks game in Madison Square Garden when something happened that he was never expecting.
When Yulfo was brought down to the court, he had no idea the team’s Hoops For Troops had a big surprise for him!
During his 36 years in the military, Yulfo served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He medically retired from active duty in 2014 after he was injured while deployed in Afghanistan. After being injured, Yulfo was stationed at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for 2 years. He finally retired from the military in April of 2016, 36 years after he enlisted.
As soon as Yulfo got back to the U.S., he applied for a service dog to help him deal with the injuries he suffered overseas, but he found himself placed on a waiting list for 18 months. When the Knicks heard about this, they knew they had to do something to help him.
Between quarters, the team brought Yulfo onto the court and gave him a personalized Knicks jersey. They then left him speechless by giving him a new service dog!
An organization called Paws of War trains and places rescue dogs with U.S. military veterans, and they decided to give a dog named Murphy to Yulfo! Each dog is trained specifically for the needs of the individual veteran they are serving, so Murphy is already completely prepared to help Yulfo!
Yulfo was overwhelmed by this gesture and he immediately dropped to his knees to greet the dog. It is clear that these two will be best friends for many years to come!
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