Archive for military working dog

State chamber honors two and four-legged heroes

Posted in air force teams, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Kevin Chandler
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

7/8/2009 – ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Staff Sgt. James Hall, 97th Security Forces kennel master, and his military working dog, Endy, were recent recipients of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce Champions of Freedom award.

The two were recognized, along with six other military members throughout the state, for heroic actions while deployed overseas.
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Staff Sgt. James Hall, 97th Security Forces kennel master and military working dog Endy help a convoy during patrols in Afghanistan. While deployed, Sergeant Hall and Endy recovered more than 800 pounds of explosives and weapons and uncovered three pressure plate improvised explosive devices buried in major roadways. The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce recognized Sergeant Hall and Endy with the Champions of Freedom award in Oklahoma City, Okla June 30. (Courtesy photo)

From October 2008 to April 2009, Sergeant Hall and Endy were deployed to a forward operating location in Afghanistan. Attached to the 7th and 3rd Special Forces Groups, Sergeant Hall and Endy participated in over 25 combat operations, recovering over 800 pounds in weapons and explosives. They also discovered three buried pressure plate improvised explosive devices, enabling convoys to safely traverse the country.

“We were in harm’ s way almost 24/7,” Sergeant Hall said. While his seven years of experience as a K-9 handler prepared him for the demanding assignment, Sergeant Hall says his partner is the one reason he returned home safely.

“He (Endy) saved my life repeatedly,” Sergeant Hall explained, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”

According to Sergeant Hall, the duo proved so effective during their deployment as a result of the rapport they developed in the months prior to leaving. Endy, who has been in the military working dog program since 2003, developed such a strong bond with Sergeant Hall that when one sensed danger the other was able to respond. Endy also went to nearby Fort Sill to train on flying in helicopters in preparation for the deployment.

While this was Endy’s first deployment, the kennel here usually deploys four dogs every year. The dogs are trained for security patrols, clearing buildings and detecting drugs and explosives. The kennel currently houses seven dogs, two trained in detecting drugs and five used to detect explosives. The handlers also train rigorously in skills needed for security forces and K-9 handlers. For example, all handlers must be certified in K-9 self aid buddy care. This training proved useful to Sergeant Hall and Endy.

“We were out in the field, far away from any base, when Endy got caught in constantine wire. I got him out of the wire but he was sliced up pretty bad and I had to sew up his wounds right there,” Sergeant Hall said.

One of the more demanding tasks Sergeant Hall encountered upon his arrival to Afghanistan was assimilating into a Total Force unit environment. The unit was largely comprised of Army personnel, requiring Sergeant Hall and his counterparts to adapt to one another to develop cohesion.

“I had to tell them my capabilities so we could lay out how we were going to work together,” he explained. “It took a while for them to get to know me, to know that I would have their back.” Ultimately, it was Endy who broke the ice between Sergeant Hall and the other members of the unit.

“When we found an IED, the walls came down,” Sergeant Hall said with a grin.

While he has received several awards for his actions in Afghanistan, including the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal and the Army Combat Action Badge, Sergeant Hall said this award was something special.

“The state of Oklahoma really supports the military,” he said. “I believe everyone over there and here stateside deserves that kind of recognition.”

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Military police honor K-9 team member

Posted in Marine dog teams with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by wardogmarine
MCB QUANTICO, Va. (June 18) — Santo, a military working dog stationed here at Quantico, was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal at a ceremony on June 18.The same traits that led to his success as a working dog, combined with the ravages of old age, led to the sad decision to euthanize the dog.

His aggressiveness and brute strength make him too risky to be put up for adoption. Santo was euthanized on June 19 due to the extent of his ailments.
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Military Working Dog Santo, a patrol and explosive detection dog with Military Police Company, Security Battalion, received a Navy Achievement Medal June 18 for his extensive work both here and as the first MWD deployed from here. Cpl. Richard Bock, dog handler with Military Police Co., Security Bn., here, accepted the award for Santo. Bock had been taking care of Santo since his former trainer left Security Bn. following he and Santo’s second deployment.

The 129-pound German Shepherd, born in Czechoslovakia, became the first military working dog to deploy from Marine Corps Base Quantico in 2004 when he was sent to Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Dana L. Brown, the kennel master at MilitaryPolice Company, Security Battalion, chose Santo and his handler, Cpl. Donald R. Paldino, because of how well they worked together.

‘‘[Santo] and his handler were an incredible team. They spent four years together and were a solid team all around,” said Brown.

While at MCB Quantico, Santo performed more than 20,000 vehicle searches, 85 health and comfort inspections and 42 building searches. His nose also helped Marines in Iraq when he found a large weapons cache consisting of more than 2,000 7.62 rounds, 20 mortar rounds, 12 rocket propelled grenade rounds and various other bomb-making materials. He earned a reputation as the ‘‘most feared dog in the kennel.”

‘‘I trusted him just as much as I trusted any other Marine. When things go bad people have uncontrollable thoughts [about the situation]; a second of hesitation,” said Paldino, now a civilian working as the director of K9 operations for S.E.A.L. Security Solutions, a private security firm. ‘‘Most dogs don’t have that reaction, there’s no second thought. It’s ‘do it because you’re told to do it, do it because you want to do it and that was the bottom line.’”

Santo’s exceptional sense of smell and aggressive nature gave the Marinesdeployed with him the confidence to complete the mission while patrolling the streets of Fallujah.

‘‘I felt more secure [with Santo] – more importantly – I think the people I was attached to felt more secure,” said Paldino, of Oxford, Mass. ‘‘He had an unbelievable nose; he was really good at finding explosives. He gave everybody a sense of security, not just me.”

A hip injury slowed Santo down after his first deployment but not enough to keep him from returning to Iraq in 2006 to help support the troops in Ramadi.
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Cpl. Donald R. Paldino, an MP attached to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, gives his partner, Santo, a 4-year-old Czechoslovakian Shepherd, time to stretch his legs at an outpost near Fallujah, Iraq. Paldino ensures Santo stays cool despite the Iraqi heat, 16 July 2004.

Hip dysplasia, a common cause of arthritis in canine, and lumbosacral disease, a condition where the nerves and spinal cord become compressed as they pass through the lower spine, set in following Santo’s second deployment. The ailments made it difficult for him to move around, said Brown. These injuries kept Santo from deploying again. Also, the same traits that earned Santo his NAM lead to his untimely death.

‘‘We’ve been taking him out and grooming him, getting him some exercise [since his last deployment],” said Cpl. Richard Bock, who has been in charge of taking care of Santo since Paldino left Quantico.

‘‘He deserves this recognition,” said Brown. ‘‘He has been an amazing dog and definitely the most memorable in my 14 years in the military working dog field.”

There is currently an effort to have Santo’s body preserved and added to the K9 exhibit at the Marine Corps History Museum at MCB Quantico.

— Correspondent sean.cummins@usmc.mil

Four-legged Soldiers Sniff Out Insurgent Activities in 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team Area of Operations

Posted in Army Dog teams with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by wardogmarine

30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team
Story and Photos by Capt. Richard Scoggins

BAGHDAD — The four-legged Soldiers of Forward Operating Base Falcon’s military police K-9 section working with the 30th “Old Hickory” Heavy Brigade Combat Team, are making a name for themselves by patrolling for explosives and conducting combat tracking.

The section is led by Staff Sgt. Christopher Jasper of Everett, Wash., and includes fellow handlers Sgt. Kyle Harris of Essex, Conn. and Sgt. Jeff Todoroff of Willis, Texas.
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Willis, Texas native, Sgt. Jeff Todoroff, with a military police K-9 section attached to the 30th “Old Hickory” Heavy Brigade Combat Team, walks military working dog, Kain, through Forward Operating Base Falcon, June 9. Kain is a patrol explosive dog and is responsible for helping Soldiers locate explosive material.

The group has six years of combined experience with their dog partners. Jasper’s K-9 section covers the entire 30th HBCT’s area of responsibility, and during the past eight months, has participated in almost 100 missions for two brigade combat teams.

There are three types of missions all military dogs can train for— patrol explosive, specialized search and combat tracking. The dogs are certified in a specialty, then deploy with their handlers, creating a solid bond between Soldier and animal.

The dogs at Falcon go on explosive detection missions that range from suspected weapons caches to suspected weapons or explosives smuggling operations.

“These dogs are on point every mission,” Harris said. “They are here to find explosives before humans do.”

The dogs’ jobs are very physical. Patrol explosive detector dogs can work without a leash to warn Soldiers before the Soldiers get too close. The dogs find explosive materials by scent. The dog’s sense of smell is extremely precise.

“When we smell hot stew, all we smell is the stew,” Todoroff said. “But the dog smells all of the ingredients.”

The military dogs track scents close to the ground, and can identify whether a person is running or walking, and whether that person is under stress or at ease.

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Sgt. James Harrington, with a military police K-9 section attached to the 30th “Old Hickory” Heavy Brigade Combat Team, coaxes his military working dog, Ryky, to bark on command at Forward Operating Base Falcon, June 9. Ryky is a combat tracking dog and is trained to find people.

The dogs’ special skills put them in danger, but the skills also earn the dogs respect from the locals. Not an easy feat, as most Iraqis have a general dislike of dogs. Even the word itself is hurled as an insult.

“They are scared to death [of the dogs], but extraordinarily intrigued.” Harris said. When Harris’s team goes on patrol, people often move to give the dogs plenty of space.

To further increase their mission involvement, Jasper’s team is planning a demonstration geared for company and battalion level leaders to educate them on the capabilities of the teams, and how these animals can give Soldiers an advantage over our enemies.

By highlighting the dog’s abilities and continuing to seek new missions from units, Jasper and his team hopes that units will understand the K-9 section’s capabilities and continue to utilize their services.

Unique Working Dog Protects 380th

Posted in air force teams, Military Working Dogs with tags , , , on June 5, 2009 by wardogmarine
380th Air Expeditionary Wing
Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Andriacco
SOUTHWEST ASIA — The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing has a unique asset in the form of the only military working dog to be donated and trained outside of the Lackland Air Force Base military working dog training unit.

Haus, a German short-hair pointer, was donated to the Air Force Academy by American Legion George C. Evans Post #103 and was trained and certified by the Academy kennel master, Chris Jakubin.
Haus

Haus, a military working dog with the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, and his handler Staff Sgt. Zerrick Shanks, perform a random perimeter sweep at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Sgt. Shanks and Haus have been working together for about a year and are deployed from the Air Force Academy.
After making arrangements to donate a dog to the kennels in honor of Evans, representatives from the post took Mr. Jakubin to a dog farm in Denver, where he performed a series of tests to figure out which one would make the best detection dog.

“After they selected the dog, he was sent to Lackland Air Force Base to be trained,” said Staff Sgt. Zerrick Shanks, a 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron K-9 handler and Haus’ partner.

The Lackland unit decided that Haus could not be trained and returned him to the Air Force Academy where Mr. Jakubin used his 20-plus years of dog training experience to train and certify Haus in bomb-detection within two months.

Haus brings his unique abilities and sensitive nose to the security mission at the 380th AEW as an explosives search dog.

“Our primary mission is to search vehicles and packages for explosives upon entry to the base,” Sgt. Shanks said. “We also conduct random walking patrols for suspicious packages and activities.”

Military K-9 units and their handlers have a unique partnership that relies on trust and they build a special closeness, as the dogs and their handlers may be together for a number of years.

“Haus and I have a good working relationship,” said Sgt. Shanks. “He knows that I’m ultimately the boss but at the same time we are partners. I don’t believe he could do the job without me and I’m sure I couldn’t do it without him.”

Ceremony recognizes military working dog’s contributions, achievements

Posted in Army Dog teams, fallen dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by wardogmarine

By: Spc. Howard Alperin, MND-B PAO.

BAGHDAD – Military working dog teams from throughout Victory Base Complex came out April 13 for a ceremony at the division chapel to honor one of their own. Kevin, a military working dog, passed away due to complications from cancer. His death was unexpected and left the other half of his team, Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier, in limbo and in mourning.
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A memorial tribute honors a fallen comrade April 13 at Camp Liberty. “Military working dogs are an important part of the military team and sometimes they are taken for granted,” said Lt. Col. Barbara Sherer, from Springfield, Mo., 1st Cav. Div. chaplain. “It is appropriate to honor their service.”

While in theater, military working dogs are not replaced, so Meier will be reassigned to other duties for the remainder of his deployment. As Meier now turns his attention to new job responsibilities, most of his focus still remains on the loyal partner and friend he lost.

“Kevin was the highlight of my day,” said Meier, a military dog handler, from Fairmont, Minn., assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.
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Staff Sgt. Christopher Jasper, kennel master for Camp Liberty, attached to DSTB, 1st Cav. Div., addresses Soldiers at a ceremony to celebrate the life of one of their own, April 13, at Camp Liberty.  “We consider the military working dogs to be Soldiers too,” said Jasper, from Everett, Wash.  Jasper read the poem, ‘I wait by the gate,’ in honor of Kevin.

For more than four years, Meier and Kevin built an excellent working relationship together. “Kevin was a great patrol explosive detector dog,” said Meier. “I could flip his on and off switch easily because of all the training we did together.”

During their course of working together, the relationship developed further and formed a powerful, personal bond between them. “I was planning on adopting Kevin after this deployment,” said Meier. “This was his last time deploying because of his age.”
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Staff Sgt. Aaron Meier, a military dog handler, sits somberly during a ceremony highlighting the life of his deceased partner, Kevin, April 13 at Camp Liberty. “Kevin was my buddy.  He was affectionate, very protective and an excellent worker,” said Meier, from Fairmont, Minn., assigned to Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Though he never got to adopt him, Meier and Kevin still had many unforgettable moments together. “I pampered him a lot because a happy dog works better.” Meier recalled the first time he gave Kevin a pillow to rest his head when they were together in a hotel preparing for a Secret Service mission. “Kevin had many human characteristics,” Meier added.

Kevin’s traits will always stick out in the minds of those who knew him. “He was very protective of Sgt. Meier,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Jasper, kennel master at Camp Liberty, DSTB, 1st Cav. Div. “Besides being a great detection and patrol dog, he was good for law enforcement purposes.”

As one of the first dogs to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kevin’s achievements were acknowledged during the ceremony. There were poems read in his honor, Taps was played by a 1st Cav. Div. trumpeter and military working dog teams left snacks in Kevin’s bowl as a tribute to his service. “It is appropriate to honor their service,” said Lt. Col. Barbara Sherer, from Springfield, Mo., 1st Cav. Div. command chaplain and co-coordinator of the ceremony. “Military working dogs are an important part of the military team and sometimes they are taken for granted.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Staff Sgt. Jasper, “We consider dogs to be Soldiers too, they are constantly working.” The ceremony gives credit to all the dogs and all the work they do here and in the United States, he added.
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Soldiers and their military working dog partners take time to pray in honor of Kevin, a military dog who succumbed to cancer.  “It was a good memorial, they don’t happen often for the dogs,” said Sgt. Matt McCummins, a military dog handler, attached to DSTB, 1st Cav. Div.

Military working dog teams are called upon often to perform their duties, so there is rarely a chance for teams from the different camps to see each other. Kevin afforded each team the opportunity to see in each other more of the common ground they share.

As Kevin’s life, the attachment Meier had with him and the work they accomplished together were celebrated, new bonds formed among the Soldiers. They realized more the value of their military working dog teams and appreciated the chance for one of their own to be recognized.
This article found here: MWD Kevin Article

Navy Brass Salutes One of Kitsap’s Top Dogs

Posted in Navy dog teams, retired dogs with tags , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by wardogmarine

— After 11 years of sniffing out drugs and patrolling Naval Base Kitsap, Benny the military working dog is retiring to an Illinois horse ranch.

The 12-year-old German shepherd received a farewell salute — and several treats — during a sunny retirement ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the Bangor base.

He joined base commander Capt. Mark Olson at the podium to accept a Navy Commendation Medal, a plaque from Navy Region Northwest with a letter of appreciation from its commander, Rear Adm. James Symonds, an American flag, a stunning blue “civilian” leash and a paw shake.

Benny’s first handler, Michael DeBock, traveled from Duvall to speak to a crowd of about 30 people and six of Benny’s kennel mates.

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Benny, a military service dog, enjoys a bite of his retirement cake after formal ceremonies at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. With Benny is his handler, Allan Tetreault, who has worked with the German shepherd for 18 months. (Steve Zugschwerdt | For the Kitsap Sun)

“Out of all the dogs I handled in the military, Benny by far was my favorite,” said DeBock, now retired from the Navy and a police sergeant. “I’ll never forget him. He was definitely the best patrol pal anyone could ask for.”

Looking down at Benny, he added, “Enjoy long days basking in the sun. You deserve it.”

Benny got off to a rough start. Straight out of training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, the puppy just wanted to play. But soon he became a top performer.

In January 2000, he earned the top dog award at a Naval Base Kitsap competition. Three months later, he and DeBock finished fourth out of 58 teams from around the world at a competition in San Antonio, were the top Navy team there, and were featured in a magazine.

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Benny, a military service dog for 11 years, was the guest of honor at a retirement ceremony Tuesday at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Benny’s handler, Allan Tetreault, led Benny past the Bangor canine unit to the podium. (Steve Zugschwerdt | For the Kitsap Sun)

Benny served at Bangor from March 1998 to December 2008, playing a key role in ensuring a drug-free workplace by inspecting buildings, bachelor housing rooms, vehicles and submarines. He also served two stints in Iraq and another in Kuwait.

“He was a very passionate dog, very people-friendly, just a good partner,” said 1st Class Petty Officer Allan Tetreault, his handler the past 18 months.

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Military service dog Benny, center, and handler Allan Tetreault pose with other members of the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor canine unit. (Steve Zugschwerdt | For the Kitsap Sun)

The dog’s handler gets first dibs on him, then the other handlers have a chance. If none of them take him, members of the public can sign up at http://www.workingdog.com to adopt one. In Benny’s case, he was adopted by a woman who owns a horse ranch in Illinois.

Unlike police dogs, military dogs don’t live with their handlers, and their handlers change more often because sailors don’t usually stay at one base for long. The dogs are retired when they’re physically unable to perform or, like people, when they get tired of working, Tetreault said.

The civilian leash represents a dog’s working days are over and he can go home and be a dog.

“He was much more than a dog,” said Chief Amanda Cooper of Naval Base Kitsap Security, the master of ceremonies. “He was a friend and companion who put his life on the line to protect others. Military Working Dog Benny, you stand relieved. We have the watch.”

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Mike DeBock, left, and Allan Tetreault visit while military service dog Benny finishes up his retirement cake Tuesday at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. DeBock was Benny’s first handler at Bangor, and Tetreault his last. Benny is retiring after 11 years and has been adopted by a horse ranch owner in Illinois. (Steve Zugschwerdt | For the Kitsap Sun)

This story was found here: Benny Retires

Military working dog team inspects potential 22,000-gallon bomb

Posted in air force teams, military working dog handlers with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Public Affairs

4/10/2009 – CAMP BUCCA, Iraq (AFNS) — Military working dog handlers and their canine partners are used throughout Southwest Asia to detect explosives that are meant to injure servicemembers and innocent civilians. 

For one dog handler, Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, and his dog, Lucca, this task took an interesting turn.

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ROCK SOLID WARRIOR
CAMP BUCCA, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, 42nd Military Police Brigade military working dog handler, and his dog, Lucca, successfully investigated a 22,000-gallon fuel truck that had gone off the road in Iraq to ensure it contained no explosives. Sergeant Null is deployed from the 52nd Security Forces Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. (Courtesy photo)

“There was a fuel truck that had gone off road and got stuck in the sand,” said the sergeant, who is part of the 42nd Military Police Brigade. “It had been abandoned overnight, and I was tasked to go out with the Army to sweep the area leading up to the vehicle and basically clear the area for improvised explosive devices that had been attached to the vehicle.”

This is an important, though dangerous step, he said.

“Anytime you’re going to have people go into an unknown area, you want to clear it as best as you possibly can,” Sergeant Null said. “If you can have an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team clear it or a bomb-sniffing dog go out there and clear the area, then you’re taking one more threat away from the Soldier who has to go out there and do a job.”

But IEDs weren’t the only threat posed by the abandoned truck. It was carrying 22,000 gallons of gas, potentially turning the truck into a massive fuel bomb.

“That makes a pretty big bomb if there’s some C4 strapped to it,” he said.

For 45 agonizing minutes, Sergeant Null and Lucca searched the area, the handler waiting for the working dog to give him some sign that all wasn’t well with the tanker truck.

“It makes you a little nervous clearing a real area, because you know it’s the real deal,” he said. “But that’s your job. This is what I signed up to do. Somebody’s got to do it, right? If my dog had sat, I would have praised her and gotten back to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle as quick as possible to report what had happened.”

At this point, it was Lucca’s show. The German Shepherd would either sit, indicating the presence of a bomb, or she wouldn’t.

“You don’t look at the dog as a dog,” Sergeant Null said. “You train together all the time. We’ve been together since June and I couldn’t count the number of hours we’ve spent together. It’s like having a best friend. You think on that same wavelength. My dog goes and does her job, and you know what to look for while she does her job. If you can’t trust the dog, you shouldn’t be out there anyway.”

But Lucca didn’t sit. The truck was clear.

“Everything was good to go,” Sergeant Null said.

Eight hours later, the truck was finally pulled free of the sand, and the convoy made its way back to base. Sergeant Null said that although his primary mission is inside the wire, he’s more than willing to go out again if called upon.

“It’s my job,” he said. “It’s the best job in the Air Force. You get to play with a dog and get paid pretty well for it. You can’t beat that.”

Col. Alan Metzler, 586th Air Expeditionary Group commander, said Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airmen like Sergeant Null are providing critical services in the joint environment and excelling at it.

“Our combat Airmen are doing an outstanding job in support of the mission at Camp Bucca, and Sergeant Null proves it,” Colonel Metzler said. “Often, they have to adapt to situations and perform unique missions we don’t normally ask them to do in the Air Force. Airmen like him demonstrate the Air Force’s commitment to our mission in Iraq

Read this story here: K9 team inspects truck