Best friends honored

The remains of Ben, Aron, Macco and Roy, military working dogs who died earlier this year, rest on a table in remembrance of their duty during a memorial ceremony on April 17.

Airman Elliott Sprehe

They are the oft-forgotten heroes of the military, serving the same mission, at times, in the same capacity as their human counterparts.
They are military working dogs, currently used in every branch of the United States military since the beginning of their service in 1942 with the Army’s “K-9” Corps.
And on April 17, four of Cannon’s fallen four-legged heroes were honored in a memorial ceremony at the base dog kennels to remember the service they performed for the Air Force.
The memorial service honored Ben Aron, and Macco, German Shepherds, and Roy, a Belgian Malinois.
All four Airmen died earlier this year, between early January and early April, leaving a strong history in the wake of their deaths.
Between the four of them, they had more than 30 years of military experience and assisted in numerous operations that ranged from customs enforcement to supporting the Global War on Terror.
Roy, Aron and Macco were at an average age of nine before old age took its toll on the lives of these unsung heroes.
While checking on another dog Staff Sgt. Richard Crotty, 27th Security Forces Squadron, said he noticed Ben was not acting the way he usually acts. Ben was taken to the office veterinarian and was treated for bloat. During the ensuing operation, it was discovered that he was bleeding internally due to a ruptured spleen and liver, said Sergeant Crotty. He died soon after from these conditions.
The weather during the morning ceremony was befitting of the overall atmosphere. Gray clouds spanned the horizon, as though they, too, were in remembrance of the fallen Airmen, and showed their sorrow in the sky.
The ceremony began with the posting of the colors and Chaplain (Capt.) Eusebia Rios, 27th Fighter Wing, reading an invocation. After a brief introduction, a missing “dog” formation, similar to the missing man formation done by pilots, was led by Staff Sgt. Joe Dolph, 27th SFS, who led his dog, Baron, out. Staff Sgt. Tanya Perez, 27th SFS, then walked with a lone choke chain and leash, symbolizing their fallen comrades.
The 27th SFS MWD handlers walked out, one by one, with the remains of their partners; Staff Sgt. Andre Peters with Macco, Staff Sgt. Richard Crotty with Ben, Tech. Sgt. James Pitts with Roy and Staff Sgt. Amy Lane with Aron. As they placed the urns on a table they read a brief biography of each dog.
Alan Farkas, former MWD handler, then read the MWD invocation. The handlers were called to attention and presented the final salute to their partners.
As the handlers presented arms, the base honor guard gave a 21-gun salute and a bugler played taps as a final tribute to the Airmen.
Since the death of the four dogs, three new dogs arrived at Cannon to take their places, leaving one available slot. Cannon is allotted six slots for MWDs and there are currently five dogs stationed here, said Sergeant Crotty.
Although replacements have arrived, Sergeant Crotty said the four fallen Airmen will not be forgotten for the mission they performed and the bonds that were forged both in partnership and in battle.