Warrior Canine Connection’s Moondog is Named in Honor of United States Marine Corps Colonel Derek Donovan (Ret)

Meet Moondog!  He is a 11-week-old lab puppy and Warrior Canine Connection’s Moondog is named in honor of United States Marine Corps Colonel Derek Donovan (Ret), friend and supporter of Tee It Up for the Troops and Warrior Canine Connection.


Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) is a pioneering organization that utilizes its Mission Based Trauma Recovery model to help wounded warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other.

One of the unique ways Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) honors veterans is through its namesake program. All future service dogs are named after service members and veterans who have made significant contributions to our nation. It is with tremendous pride that Tee It Up for the Troops, along with WCC, name Moondog in honor of United States Marine Corps Colonel Derek Donovan (Ret). Derek was a great friend and supporter of both non-profit organizations. 

USMC Colonel Derek Donovan (Ret) embodied inspirational leadership that spanned 27 years of military service. Trained as a UH-1N (Huey) helicopter pilot, USMC COL Derek Donovan’s (Ret) distinguished career included over 3500 flight hours, visits to over 70 countries, and living aboard U.S. Naval vessels for more than four years of his life. His extensive operational background included deployments with the Gunrunners, Golden Eagles, Blue Knights, Warriors, Ugly Angels, and Black Knights.  His callsign, “Moondog” was awarded in recognition of an irreverent sense of humor and a great appreciation for a well-conceived practical joke.

United States Marine Corps Colonel Derek Donovan


COL Donovan holds the distinction of being the first Marine selected as the aide-de-camp to the Secretary of the Navy. As the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Air Facility in Quantico, Virginia, he provided critical Presidential helicopter mission support, showcasing his leadership in high-stakes situations. His last assignment on active duty was with the Presidential Commission for the Care of America’s Returning Wounded Warriors co-chaired by Bob Dole and Donna Shalala. Following military retirement, Derek continued to serve military members and their families while working for the Fisher House Foundation.

Rooted in a family tradition of service, with his father’s 30-year career in the United States Air Force and his mother’s service in the Army Nurse Corps, his commitment to duty runs deep. His exceptional career and post-military contributions stand as a testament to the values of the United States Marine Corps.

The namesake program has a profound impact on those being honored as well as their family and friends. COL Donovan was nominated by Tee It Up for the Troops with the blessing of Derek’s wife, Kathryn.  Colonel Derek “Moondog” Donovan, USMC (Retired) completed his last flight and passed away on February 11, 2024, after an aggressive dogfight with esophageal cancer.  Recently, Kathryn had the opportunity to see some pictures of Moondog and virtually meet the service dog named in honor of Derek.

Derek and Kathryn Donovan


“Our Service dogs have an important mission—to carry on the legacies of heroes like Col. Derek Donovan while helping recovering Veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation,” said Rick Yount, Founder and Executive Director, of Warrior Canine Connection. “We feel it’s important that those Veterans have their stories told and their lives honored through our namesake program. We believe when a Veteran’s name is spoken, they are always remembered.”

Another distinctive aspect of WCC’s program is that it enlists service members and veterans to help train the service dogs for others. This No-Fail Mission aligns with the warrior ethos of caring for your brother and sister-in-arms. The veterans and service members doing the training know their hard work will contribute to helping a fellow veteran or service member in need, while also receiving therapeutic benefits themselves.

WCC’s volunteer-based, animal-assisted therapy involves service members and veterans in training future service dogs. Besides knowing the dog will one day go on to help a fellow veteran, many warriors involved cite their own benefits, including enhanced communication, confidence, accountability, emotional regulation, and patience. Photo Credit: WCC


It is with tremendous pride that we name WCC’s Moondog in honor of United States Marine Corps Colonel Derek Donovan (Ret).

Check out the link to their website for more information about this wonderful organization- Warrior Canine Connection.