Incirlik mourns after losing a MWD Defender

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. and Turkish Airmen from across Incirlik Air Base attended a memorial service to honor the life and service of Buck, 39th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, at the base community center Aug. 7, 2020.

Buck passed away despite the efforts of many Defenders and the base veterinary staff on July 27, giving the ultimate sacrifice after serving more than five years of military service.

“Buck and I were doing a night time building search training in my off-time,” said Senior Airman Antoine Carr, 39th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler. “He seemed fine before and during training, but afterwards he just kept showing signs of over-heating. I made the call and my teammates rushed out and we got him to the vet … all of it happened within minutes it was so fast.”

MWD handlers spend not only every working day with their dogs, but many of them often take time outside of work hours to keep building a strong bond and trusting relationship.

“I’ve worked with Buck for over a year and he was known around the base for his skills and bite,” Carr said. “He was iconic to Incirlik as the one-eared sweetheart MWD, born that way.”

MWDs are uniquely qualified Airmen, both as drug and explosive detectors, bodyguards and companions to the USAF Defenders.

“People usually only see the dog at work and that can be intimidating,” said U.S. Staff Sgt. Rachel Hyde, 39th SFS MWD handler. “MWDs are trained to quickly switch from play-mode to work-mode, it’s all a game to them and they love to play and be happy, which we as handlers make sure they get all the loving attention they want.”

One of the hardest burdens of military service is losing a teammate, so part of the U.S. Airman culture is supporting others in times of need.

“The whole Security Forces team, from leadership to junior Airman were there for Carr and Buck,” Hyde said. “They didn’t face this alone.”

Carr was thankful for the support and plans to keep working with dogs for the rest of his military career and also after transitioning into civilian life someday.

“Dogs are my life, as I joined the Air Force because I knew they worked with dogs,” Carr said. “I still remember the day I met Buck and I was intimidated of him even though I was trained for it. We had a rough start; I got bit a lot, but after a while we learned to respect each other and start clicking on the job.”

“He was a good dog, it’s kind of surreal that he’s gone,” added Carr.