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WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Military Working Dogs, Tina (left) and Joost, lay on the floor next to their escorts during their retirement ceremony from active duty, Oct 8. MWDs, Charlie, Joost, Rico, and Tina retired from active duty service Oct. 8 after more than 35 years of service to their country combined. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Cory Todd)
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'Guardians of the night' retire from active duty service

Posted 10/13/2009   Updated 10/15/2009 Email story   Print story


by Jennifer Greene
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

10/13/2009 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo -- Four military working dogs with 37 years of combined experience in the U.S. Air Force retired from active duty service Oct. 8 during a ceremony held at the Community Activities Center here.

Charlie, Joost, Rico and Tina were honored for their brave and unwavering service with the 509th Security Forces Squadron during the ceremony.

"The MWD serves many roles throughout their career," said Tech. Sgt. David Duty, 509th SFS MWD handler. "From protecting heads of state, including the president of the United States to fighting the Global War on Terrorism, their official retirement and adoption by their respective handlers is most deserved."

Brig. Gen. Robert Wheeler, 509th Bomb Wing commander, Col. Rickey Rodgers, 509th Bomb Wing vice commander and Chief Master Sgt. Tim Cooley, 509th BW command chief, were all in attendance for the ceremony.

"Many are unaware of the assignments and details that these Airmen are involved in," General Wheeler said. "Like fellow security forces members, they too were deployed to areas such as Iraq and other locations overseas. Additionally during their service, they were called upon by the likes of the U.S. Secret Service and the United Nations."

With a history of service stemming from World War I, MWDs are considered valuable force protection assets to U.S. services across the board. Their dedication to duty is often captured in poems and quotes such as this by an unknown MWD handler: "If we should meet again on another street, I will gladly take up your fight, I am a military working dog and together, we are the guardians of the night."

Each of these "guardians of the night" is trained and certified in their specific area of expertise. Charlie in August 2003, Joost in May 1999 and Tina in Dec. 2002, were each trained as patrol and explosive detector dogs. Rico was certified in November 1999 as a patrol and narcotics detector dog. 

Retired military dogs are allowed to be adopted by their current or former handlers, law enforcement agencies, or individuals capable of caring for them, allowing MWD to live out their days with loving families.

Charlie, Joost, Rico and Tina, were each adopted as part of their retirement. Charlie was adopted by Teresa Arguelles, mother of Staff Sgt. Tammy Boxx, 509th Security Forces member; Joost was adopted by Mark Lenger a Johnson county dog handler; Tina was adopted by Staff Sgt. Bobby Haguewood her former handler; and Rico was adopted by Mike Shelite a former dog handler.

As a key part of the retirement ceremony for these canines, the passing of the leash from their escort to their new owner during their retirement ceremony signifies their transition from active duty to retirement. The new owners welcomed their new family members with open arms.

"MWDs are amazing animals and are a part of the SFS family," said Megan Haguewood, wife of MWD handler Staff Sgt. Bobby Haguewood. "My husband and I are honored to welcome Tina into our home."

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