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AF Reservist loses house to tornado, dog gains wings

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chris A. Durney
  • 22nd AF Det 1 Public Affairs
Senior Airman Drew Baker and his family thought they had lost everything - including their dog -- when a killer tornado tore through the small Arkansas community of Vilonia the night of April 27. But through a minor miracle, 'Batman' survived.

When you name your pet for a super hero, does it take on some characteristics of that hero? The Baker family might swear so in the case of their six month old Yorkie-Dachshund mix. This dog earned his cape and wings that night.

The Air Force Reservist, his wife Tiffany and two daughters, Aubri and Adalynn, were away when their house took a direct hit from a confirmed EF4 tornado, which took the lives of 16 Arkansans, including one member of the Arkansas Air National Guard.

"Batman was in a metal kennel in the house when it got hit," said Tiffany. "We were positive he was gone."

According to the Bakers, they got a call from a veterinarian the next day, telling them that the dog was found by a volunteer and was okay. A plate on Batman's collar had identified him.

"He was found lying in mud over a mile away from the house," said Tiffany. "He landed in a bunch of mud, and we've never found the kennel. The storm must have torn it apart from around him.

"There was not a scratch on him, not a scratch," said the amazed dog owner.

Senior Airman Baker is a member of the maintenance section of the 22nd Air Force, Detachment 1, at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas. An outpouring of community involvement, volunteers and donated items has helped the young couple weather the storm and they have decided to rebuild their house on the same site. The family is staying in base temporary housing in the meantime.

In the aftermath of the tornado, Baker's supervisor, Master Sgt. Andrea Westman, set out a call for help to the 450 members of the detachment, asking for clothing sized to fit members of the family, and toys for the two young girls. Over 15 plastic bags of new and gently-used clothing, and several boxes of stuffed animals, toys and sundries were gathered and donated to the resilient family.

"We're doing okay and we're very grateful to everyone who's helped us," said Tiffany. According to Drew, Batman is none the less for wear considering his far-flung experience.

"He's a little gun shy, but otherwise doing pretty good," said Drew. "I guess he's earned his wings. He'll be known as the 'flying dog' from now on."