By Staff Sgt. Roger RyDell Daniels, Fort Stewart Warrior Transition BattalionMay 20, 2013
FORT STEWART -- The bond between a military police and his military working dog is very close and special. This bond is built upon a high level of trust and companionship. When joined together, they become a working team that stretch beyond the battlefield.
When an MP loses the other half of his working team on the battlefield, it can be very hard to deal with.
On March 11, Staff Sgt. Bak, a military working dog, along with his handler, Sgt. Marel Molina, both assigned to the 93rd Military Working Dog Detachment, 385th Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, were injured by enemy gunfire in a blue-on-green attack. Bak passed later that day during surgery from wounds he received.
On May 14, the Fort Stewart community paid tribute to Bak at a Memorial Ceremony held at the MWD Kennels at Wright Army Airfield.
"In the MP world, we classify them as Soldiers because that's what they are. They are our battle buddies. When we deploy with the dogs or when we are on road with the dogs, that is our partner," said Capt. Douglas Bryant, commander of the 197th and 93 MP Battalions. "Losing one of our own like this is very sad because the Army might see it as we lost property, but it's actually a dog and it's considered a person."
Bryant said Sgt. Molina took it hard, but he understands the situation after having handled other dogs.
"Sergeant Molina will never be the same," Bryant said. "It's very hard to lose that Soldier. We go through the same remorse as anyone else, there's always the pain and the loss of losing one of our own."
More than a hundred people from the community, including other working dog handlers from law enforcement agencies from outside of Fort Stewart, attended the ceremony.
"I think that meant the world to all of us [to see so many people attend the ceremony]. It lets us know just how much everybody appreciates these dogs and what they do," said Lt. Col. Jerry Chandler, commander of the 385th MP Bn. "Most people feel the way we do. We feel the military working dog stands beside the Soldier as one of the Army's most valuable resources; you can never measure the contribution that Staff Sgt. Bak and all of the military working dogs have made."
Staff Sgt. Bak, a German Shepherd, was born in October 2009. He completed basic training in September 2001 as a Patrol Explosive Detector Dog, and was assigned to Fort Stewart.
Staff Sgt. Bak's work includes conducting an explosive sweep for President Barack Obama and the Army Chief of Staff. He deployed to Afghanistan with Sgt. Molina on June 1, 2012. While on deployment, he was injured from an IED and received the purple paw award. Bak had six major IED finds.