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Offutt AFB remembers, honors MWD

A motorcycle passes a saluting group of Airmen.

The military funeral procession for Morty, 55th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, passes a formation Oct. 6. Offutt Air Force Base, along with Bellevue, Sarpy County and Omaha Police Departments, held a procession through the installation in his honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. William A. O'Brien)

in the foreground a Airman wearing a vest with K9 unit on the backside of vest, he standing in front of a military working dog sitting in front of the Airman

Staff Sgt. Blake Radey, 55th Security Forces Squadron dog handler, reinforces commands with military working dog Morty Nov. 19, 2019 while training on an 55th SFS obstacle course at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Full military funeral honors are given to MWDs that die while on active duty. Offutt Air Force Base, along with Bellevue, Sarpy County and Omaha Police Departments, held a procession through the installation in his honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

military working dog at the very top of a two sided metal staircase at an obstacle course while his dog handler is behind the staircase giving commands to the dog

55th Security Forces Squadron military working dog Morty runs stairs at an obstacle course on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Nov. 19, 2019 on command of his handler Staff Sgt. Blake Radey. Full military funeral honors are given to MWDs that die while on active duty. Offutt Air Force Base, along with Bellevue, Sarpy County and Omaha Police Departments, held a procession through the installation in his honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

A military working dog gets his official photo taken

The official photo of Morty, 55th Security Forces Squadron military working dog. Morty was given full military funeral honors Oct. 6. (U.S. Air Force photo by 55th Wing Public Affairs Photo Studio)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb --

A 55th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog died here Oct. 2, 2020. 

Morty, a six-year-old German Shepherd, suffered multiple health issues recently, but an exploratory surgery revealed inoperable cancer. 

Early on the morning of Oct. 2, MWD Morty was working the search pit, and his handler, Staff Sgt. Kathryn Malone, 55th Security Forces Squadron, noticed something was off. 

“She noticed he was less eager to work,” said U.S. Army Capt. Megan McGonagle, Offutt Air Force Base  veterinarian. “Usually, he is jumping up on his own and detecting no problem, but he just seemed to be working slower than normal, so we told her to bring him to the clinic.”

During his initial physical examination everything was normal, however, due to abnormal behavior, the veterinary team decided to look deeper. 
“We did blood work and imaging and found a tumor,” said McGonagle. “We took him to surgery, and found cancer had spread and was inoperable. Unfortunately, it would have been unfair for him to continue with that.”

The bond between a Military Work Dog and their handler is unique.

“It’s hard to describe the bond to those who haven’t experienced it,” said SSgt Kathryn Malone, 55th SFS and Morty’s most recent handler. “It’s like having a best friend that you completely trust with your life.”

Known across the globe for his unique floppy ear and his detection and bite work, Morty was a great asset to the U.S. Air Force. 
“He was more than just a dog; he was a great all-around dog, partner and mentor,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Catron, MWD handler.
Many of MWD Morty’s previous handlers agree that he was always happy and willing to work. 

“He simply loved his job, and he loved to work,” said Malone. 

Full military funeral honors are given to MWDs that die while on active duty. 

“When a MWD is laid to rest they deserve the same honor and respect that humans do,” said McGonagle. “We choose this life for them, and yet, they are happy to go to work every day and they never complain.” 

Offutt Air Force Base, along with Bellevue, Sarpy County and Omaha Police Departments, held a procession through the installation in honor of MWD Morty Oct. 6. 
“It meant a lot that everyone came together to show how much they cared about Morty,” said Malone. “It meant a lot to see everyone support us and show they too are grieving and that Morty made an impact on their lives.”