Paying tribute to a faithful battle buddy
June 11, 2014
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- A memorial ceremony honored a military working dog, who was a member of the Fort Irwin Police Department, May 28.
The service paid tribute to Kyra, who died from cancer in March. Kyra, a Dutch shepherd, was 9 years old and handled by Sgt. Jonathan Drake, police officer with Department of the Army here. Kyra arrived to Fort Irwin in April 2008 after completing training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and began serving with Drake in September 2010.
"Our main mission here was law enforcement and to patrol the Fort Irwin community," Drake said. "We would assist patrols during traffic stops, domestic violence calls, suspicious persons, suspicious vehicles and we would do RAMP checks -- random antiterrorist measures and protection -- basically the gate check you see."
Drake said he really enjoyed walking the housing areas on cool mornings with Kyra.
"It was a great bonding time and a great time to … go as a team," Drake said.
Police officer Sgt. Wayne Stickels, a DA officer here, said during the ceremony that as a patrol narcotics detector dog, Kyra's support to the Fort Irwin community greatly increased the success and safety of Soldiers, civilians and family members.
"[Military working dogs] are very critical to our overall success and we love them like brothers and sisters … and it saddens us whenever one of them is no longer with us," said Mike Butolph, deputy director of Emergency Services here.
Drake said his time with Kyra was the most he spent with one dog as a handler in the active duty Army and DA police force. He said that handlers sometimes spend more time with their dogs than their families. They're partners and comrades, Drake said about military working dogs.
"Losing Kyra is like losing a piece of me," Drake said. "She's forever going to be in my heart, she's always going to be there, she's always going to be etched in my soul."