by Senior Airman Aubrey White
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
8/27/2013 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- He
was bred to stand on the front lines and help protect service members.
He worked day-in and day-out to detect and warn them of the existence of
explosives. For the last 10 years, he's been an Airman's best friend.
Charlie, a 10-year-old German Shepherd Military Working Dog assigned to
the 4th Security Forces Squadron, retired from active duty Aug. 23,
At the ceremony, he was honored for meritorious service by several
members of Team Seymour and special guest, Maj. Gen. Jake Polumbo, 9th
Air Force commander.
"MWD Charlie ensured the protection of United States assets and
personnel by providing superior explosives detection capabilities while
inside and outside the wire," said Maj. Troy Jones, 4th SFS commander.
"Charlie gave his all for the mission and served flawlessly."
Charlie's handler, Senior Airman Rayshawn Taylor, 4th SFS MWD handler, reflected on the year-and-a-half he spent with the dog.
"When I first met Charlie, I thought he was pretty amazing," Taylor
said. "Looking through his records, I saw that he deployed more than
seven times and it was incredible to know I was going to work with a dog
that was very experienced; it made me trust him a lot more. He's a
veteran to this game and I didn't have anything to worry about."
Like many of his counterparts, Charlie has had to stare adversity in the face at certain points in his career.
During a deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, Charlie and his then
handler, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Seekell, 4th SFS MWD trainer, were injured
when they stepped on an improvised explosive device. Seekell earned a
Purple Heart and Charlie earned a commemorative Purple Heart. Service
animals are not eligible for military decorations.
Although the duo had a close bond before the incident, the experience
they endured brought them even closer, enough for Seekell to adopt him
after he's officially released from the Air Force.
"Charlie was the last dog I handled, or probably will ever handle in my
career. He's my buddy; my partner," Seekell said. "He has done amazing
things for the Air Force. He represents the MWD program as good as any
dog ever could and I'm really looking forward to being able to bring him
home, let him live a dog's life, be around the family and be lazy if he
wants. If anyone deserves it, it's him and even though he's old and has
been around the block a few times, I know that if I ever needed him to
come back tomorrow, he'd be ready and he'd do it for me."