NEWS | June 1, 2016

Memorial service honors military working dog

By Airman Megan Munoz Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

A memorial service to honor the life of military working dog, Akim, 628th Security Forces Squadron, was held at the Joint Base Charleston Theater, May 26, 2016. Following the service, Akim was buried at the Security Forces Kennel.

Akim, a Belgian Malinois, deployed six times and participated several missions supporting the president, first lady and vice president of the United States. Akim also served the U.S. Secret Service as an explosive detection dog before retiring in 2014.

"Belgian Malinois are like horses," said Gary Rease, a retired military working dog handler, who was the memorial service guest speaker. "They'll run and go until they can't anymore. They'll go until they die. Akim got the job done. To talk about everything he gave to this country, on deployments, the lives and resources he saved would take all day."

Akim started his career as a single purpose dog, specializing in explosive detection. After coming to JB Charleston and receiving more training, Akim was certified as a patrol dog.

 Akim had four previous handlers before retiring under the care of Tech. Sgt. Timothy Garrett, a 628th SFS military working dog handler, who developed a strong bond with the Belgian Malinois.

"I remember one of my proudest moments of him was when one of our prior handlers was helping to train Akim with bite work," said Garrett. "The handler got him all agitated and hyped up before running out the door and jumping in a tree knowing Akim would chase him. Akim leaped at least seven or eight feet in the air and stayed up there swinging and holding onto the handlers arm. It was very, very impressive."

During the service Rease, who helped train the dog at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, explained the bond between military working dogs and their handlers. It's important for them to have a strong bond to be able to get the job done.

"These dogs aren't just pieces of equipment, they're so much more," said Garrett. "I love my dog just as much as my son. The bond between a man and his best friend, there's no way to explain it. There's no other friend more loyal than a dog, especially a military working dog. I went through a bad divorce, the only thing there for me 100% was Akim. He could read me like a book. If I was feeling down he would come over to try and play with me."