“Detachment, attention,” said a Fort Jackson Veterinarian Services noncommissioned officer.
The muted thud of boot heels touching began the final patrol for Military Working Dog Aura across the installation and her home.
Cpl. Nathanial Hudson, Aura’s handler, stood at the head of her gurney as he and fellow handlers wheeled her flag draped remains into the lone black hearse awaiting her Jan. 7.
The strobe of red and blue lights of marked and unmarked police cars and fire engines announced Aura’s arrival as they somberly and silently wound their way across post. Hudson drove the final miles to where Aura’s remains will be cremated.
Soldiers, civilians, retirees and Family members lined Strom Thurmond Boulevard and Marion Avenue as she passed. Some attended with their own pets and service animals to honor the work Aura and fellow working dogs provide to safeguard the nation and its people. Many saluting, holding their hands over their hearts and waving small flags to show their final respects to the four-legged hero.
Though Aura had several combat deployments under her collar, she was the working dog most frequently seen in the public’s eye. An explosives detection dog by trade, she was disciplined enough to be used during public demonstrations to include many installation hosted events like National Night Out and the Child and Youth Services Fall Festival.
“This is adding closure,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Hawkins, Fort Jackson kennel master. “She had a rare form of lymphoma cancer across her whole body.”
It was during a deployment to Kuwait where Aura displayed concerning health issues, after returning to Fort Jackson, her cancer was discovered. The decision to euthanize Aura was made by veterinarian staff, military police senior leadership and Hudson.
“We made the decision Dec. 26, 2021,” Hawkins said. “It was the humane thing to do.”
“She gave her life for our country just like Soldiers do,” said Chantelle Young, spouse to a Family Life Chaplain. “She saved lives and served right alongside all the Soldiers, just like Family.”
After Aura and her procession passed, many returned to work and their daily activities. Many whispered, “Gone, but not forgotten,” and “Rest easy,” as they returned to their cars and offices.
Aura, a 6-year old Belgian Malinois, will be cremated and her ashes returned to the installation. In keeping with military police traditions, Aura’s ashes will be given to Hudson for safe keeping and personal closure to their professional working relationship and bond.