By David Stoltz, Branson Globe Correspondent
‘Cobra,’ the Belgian Malinois K9 that joined the Branson Police Department in December, paid a special visit Tuesday night to the veterans group responsible for his arrival in Branson.
Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913 (VVA 913) gathered around Cobra’s handler, Officer Jason Harvey, and the police car unit that bears the distinctive decals commemorating the local chapter’s gift to BPD. On the rear of the unit is displayed the VVA logo and the words “K9 donated by Chapter 913.” And on the side of the unit is a decal of the Cobra helicopter with the word, “Cobra.”
VVA 913 raised $20,000 in 2018 to purchase and train Cobra and his handler. His name was selected by the VVA’s approximately 180 members from many suggestions. “Cobra,” was selected, because “The ground forces in Vietnam depended on a life-saving instrument to help them, and that was the Cobra helicopter,” explained Bob Sarver, VVA 913 public relations director.
Cobra was then introduced to the public at a December ceremony which also featured the addition of four new officers to the BPD.
As members admired the K9 car unit that sat in front of Hamner’s Variety Theater and visited with Officer Harvey, they patiently and respectfully awaited the appearance of the real star, Cobra. Officer Harvey then brought Cobra out from the car, circling the vehicle as Cobra alertly scanned the crowd, which kept a respectful distance.
Out of respect for his training, Cobra’s admirers asked questions of Officer Harvey but restrained the desire to move too close to the BPD’s new member. However, after a few moments, one or two offered a tentative back of the hand, which, under Officer Harvey’s watchful gaze, was sniffed warily by Cobra.
Cobra’s visit to VVA 913 precluded the chapter meeting during which the chapter elected officers for the coming year.
Cobra and Officer Harvey create BPD’s second K9 team, joining Brandon Gamble and his K9 partner, Tygo.