Smoke the donkey, a creature so beloved by Camp Pendleton Marines that they brought him home from Iraq, died last night of natural causes.
Smoke was living at Take Flight Farms in Omaha and served as a therapy animal with the Wounded Warriors Family Support organization.
According to Smoke's Facebook page:
Smoke touched the lives of so many people around the world who followed his incredible journey from war torn Iraq to his new home in the United States. We will all miss him.
Smoke's journey began back in 2008, when he endeared himself to several members of Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Logistics Group based at Camp Taqaddum in Anbar province. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2011:
The animal quickly became a favorite. His name comes from his color and the fact that he once snatched a cigarette from a Marine.
Marine Col. John Folsom took it upon himself to bring Smoke back to the United States. He worked with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to raise enough money to bring Smoke to America.
In memory of Smoke, and all he did to raise the morale of active-duty troops and veterans alike, I've posted a video of him showing off a new trick in December.