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U.S.A.'s Donkey Marine

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Smoke the donkey

No, this isn't some kind of political joke.

He might not look like the most prized pet but this lovable Iraqi donkey won the hearts of so many soldiers, one retired Marine spent months and thousands of dollars organising for 'Smoke' to head to America.

It cost $40,000 and required countless bureaucratic obstacles, but thanks to the hard work of now-retired Marine Col. John Folsom, the brown-eyed donkey is heading to Nebraska.

The donkey became a mascot for a group of Marines in Iraq's Anbar nearly three years ago when he wandered into a former Iraqi air base occupied by American troops.

Marines took care of him until 2009 when they left the area, but they turned Smoke over to a sheik who promised to care for him.

Folsom used to walk Smoke daily and had formed a bond with the animal. It didn't seem right that Smoke was left behind.

Folsom saw the donkey for the first time in years Saturday when he arrived in New York to transport him to his new home in Omaha. By Saturday afternoon they had driven through Baltimore and were on their way to Warrenton, Va., for meet-and-greet with some fans.

[AP Photo/Department of Defense]

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