Unleashed from Duty: MWD Azir digs into retirement

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Farrell
  • 509th Bomb Wing

Following two years of faithful service to the U.S. Air Force and about 1,650 mission hours, Military Working Dog Azir retired from duty on April 26, 2024, at Whiteman Air Force Base. 


Azir, a four-year-old Brindle Dutch Shepherd, previously assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron at Whiteman AFB in 2022, will now get to live with his former handler, Staff Sgt. Marcel Durand, 509th SFS MWD handler. 


“We chose this job, the dogs didn’t,” said Durand. “We care for them to the best of our abilities and try to give them a good life.”


You’ll find skilled MWDs serving wherever military members are serving, and every day security forces handlers put their lives and trust in their partner’s paws.


“I never went into a situation where I doubted him,” said Durand. “If Azir didn’t alert, I knew that he’d searched everything, and we were good and if he did alert, I trusted him that there was an odor there; there is a bomb.”

During Durand and Azir’s time together at Whiteman, they had many assignments, including two U.S. Secret Service missions. 


The first was in 2023 when they swept 15,000 square feet of the Old Post Office events complex in Chicago to ensure the space was safe for President Joseph Biden to speak at.

During the second, Azir was the first MWD from Whiteman AFB to ever attend the U.N. General Assembly, in New York, during which they conducted 84 hours of security operations, swept 270,000 square feet, 2.5 miles of roadway and $142 million worth of assets for 193 world leaders.


“The MWDs are critical to our anti-terrorism measures, both as a psychological deterrence and substance detection,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Cook, 509th SFS kennel master. “From the enemy standpoint, if they see a dog they know they’re capable of one of two things, if not both- biting and detection.” 


Now, this four-legged fighter is trading sniffing out threats for scarfing down treats following a tribute from the Airmen he worked with.


He took his final ride with Lt. Col. Stephen Addington, 509th SFS commander, and his handler Durand to kick off his retirement and received words of encouragement and appreciation for his service. 


“The retirement ceremony honors the dogs and everything they do for the base like augmenting for the United States Secret Service, presidential support and deployments,” said Cook.


After the final ride concluded, an end of watch call came out over the SFS radio for Azir, thanking him for his service and telling him he is now retired.


Azir retired early due to a medical condition that could have caused him to aspirate or overheat when he exerted a lot of energy at work.


Now he will be living a happy and healthy retired life on the couch with Durand and his three new brothers and sisters, Durand’s other dogs.


The men and women of Whiteman Air Force Base thank you for your service, we have the watch from here.