Military Working Dog strengthens community ties

By Airman 1st Class Justin Shelton, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
May 7, 2009 – 7:18:59 PM
Blackanthem Military News

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – The 22nd Security Forces Squadron performed a military working dog demonstration for more than 200 elementary school students at Wichita Collegiate School April 24.

Team McConnell fostered a greater bond with the local community as well as the Marine Corp by coming out to perform a MWD demonstration and to speak to the students about their canines.
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Tech. Sgt. Daniel Bechtel, 22nd Security Forces Squadron kennel master, answers questions about military working dogs during a demonstration at Wichita Collegiate School April 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Justin Shelton)    

The children had a vested interest in learning about MWDs because they spent a year raising a golden retriever named Trinidad, to become a service dog. The children raised the dog until it was old enough to be sent to the Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services Corporation.

Raymond Geoffroy, assistant deputy commandant, plans, policies, and operations at the Pentagon, visited and spoke to the children about working dogs and their service dog. He spoke about how MWDs have helped the military for many years and about how service dogs help people all over the world.
    
“I want everyone to know that dogs really are man’s best friend, not only from the standpoint of helping the elderly, but also from a military standpoint,” said Mr. Geoffroy.
    
Mr. Geoffroy played a MWD video and then introduced McConnell’s kennel master, Tech Sgt. Daniel Bechtel, along with dog handlers Staff Sgts. Max Soto and Michael Shelite, Senior Airmen Paul Quilty and Billy Lofton, all from the 22nd Security Forces Squadron. Sergeant Bechtel spoke briefly about MWDs and how the Air Force uses them to assist in finding dangerous substances such as bombs and drugs.
    
Sheryl, one of McConnell’s working dogs, was lead out by her handler, Airman Lofton, to perform a short demonstration of what she does on a regular basis. Airman Lofton guided Sheryl along a series of suitcases in front of the stage, where she found no suspicious objects. Sheryl is nine years old and is nearing her date of retirement.
    
After the demonstration Sergeant Bechtel answered questions about MWDs and their use in the Air Force.

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