On his two deployments to Afghanistan, Waldo, a military working dog assigned to Joint Base Charleston, kept American units safe.
This morning, the 11-year-old German shepherd will be laid to rest with military honors, including a 21-gun salute.
A base spokesperson said the high honor is warranted, even though Waldo stood guard on four legs.
“He is considered an airman,” Lt. Leah Davis, of the public affairs office, said Tuesday. “He supports the mission, just like all of our airmen do.”
Waldo, part of the 628th Security Forces Squadron, passed away March 9. He was about to be adopted but died after a short illness. He had served most of his career at Charleston and was trained to detect narcotics and in installation protection.
Officials stressed Tuesday that dogs are part of the military, and that the working relationship with their handlers is considered extremely close. The pairs are known to share the same sleeping bag on some assignments.
“Military working dogs train, deploy and fight with their handlers, and oftentimes, save lives while performing their duties,” said Rose Alexander, another base spokesperson. “They are ‘veterans’ and have served our nation.”
Immediately following the memorial, a procession led by the Patriot Guard motorcycle escort will proceed to the base’s Military Working Dog cemetery, where Waldo’s remains will be interred.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Joint Base Charleston Air Base Theater.