Military News

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Team McConnell celebrates MWD's seven years of service

by Airman 1st Class Tara Fadenrecht
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/13/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- As part of National Police Week, Team McConnell recognized a four-legged 22nd Security Forces Squadron member for his years of outstanding performance here and during numerous deployments in harms way.

"Today we celebrate the retirement of military working dog, Rakker, who dedicated49 dog years of honorable service to the protection of our nation," said Tech. Sgt. Max Soto, 22nd Security Forces kennel master at a retirement ceremony in the base theater.

During his time here, the German Shepard worked as an explosive detection MWD under the direction of several different handlers.

His first handler, Soto, spoke about his connection with Rakker.

"It didn't matter if we were working, if it was down time, or if we were in a bunker, Rakker was always there by my side," said Soto. "There's a special bond between a handler and his dog that is hard to explain. I could do my best to try to describe it but it would do no justice to the feeling of connection that one has for the other."

Rakker's achievements include securing polling stations in Kirkuk, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom which allowed 500,000 Iraqi citizens to vote for their prime minister. He also directly supported the U.S. secret service on five separate occasions to safeguard the U.S. president and other visiting heads of state. Additionally, Rakker completed 1seven0 hours of training and more than 11,000 detector sweeps.

During the ceremony, Rakker received a certificate of meritorious service and a letter of appreciation from the 22nd SFS commander, Maj. Robert Clouse, for his accomplishments. In addition, there was a flag folding ceremony as the National Anthem played in front of the audience of well-wishers.

In keeping with tradition, Rakker, as a MWD, took one last bite of a training sleeve during the ceremony. After his last bite, Rakker's MWD collar was removed and replaced with a regular dog collar signifying his transition into civilian dog life, and he took his first bite of civilian life as he ate a steak.

Since his last official day on the job in April, Rakker found a new home with a member of the 22nd SFS and has been adapting to his new life as a house dog.

"I adopted him because I wanted to see him go to a good home," said Staff Sgt. Wade Waddle, 22nd SFS unit deployment manager. "He has done his service and has earned the opportunity to be a dog. Rakker will spend the rest of his life as the king of a four-acre yard playing with my other dogs and napping on the couch. He has been with me for a few weeks now and watching him turn into a pet has been amazing."

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