Four-legged fighter retires from 81st SFS

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Davis
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

One of Team Keesler’s most beloved Defenders was retired from the 81st Security Forces Squadron at a ceremony on Aug. 25, 2023.

Military Working Dog Gamma has supported the mission of the 81st SFS for the past six years.

MWD Gamma is a German Shepard born in August of 2014. He finished his training in 2016 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, becoming certified in explosive detection and patrol work. He has deployed to Niger, Qatar and Bahrain, supporting numerous United States Secret Service and United Nations missions. MWD Gamma’s day-to-day job at Keesler includes patrolling at the access control points, performing detection work and training – arguably his favorite part of the job.

“Seeing him and his handler work definitely painted that picture of how a dog team is supposed to work and laid a foundation for me,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Garton, 81st SFS MWD Handler. “He thoroughly enjoyed it. He definitely had the hardest bite in the kennel, and I think he liked the reaction he got from people when he put some fear into them.”

MWD Gamma is well-known for keeping his handlers on their toes.

“He loves to steal things and would always sneak your beret from your cargo pocket if you weren’t looking. You also couldn’t go on a trip with him without making sure your rolled socks were secure or you’d find them gone,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Wood, 81st SFS MWD Handler. “He loves his toys, and if you ever threw him a Kong in the yard without a leash, you were going to have to chase him to get it back.”

After a long career, MWD Gamma stopped working at eight years old due to arthritis developing in his spine and has spent the last seven months sleeping on the couch, enjoying treats and destroying toys. Retired MWDs are traditionally adopted by a previous handler or suitable adoptee, thus MWD Gamma can soon look forward to going to his forever home.

MWD Gamma’s career, like thousands before him, serves as a testament to the connections built between the dogs and their handlers.

“MWD Gamma embodies our warrior ethos and represents everything an MWD should represent - dedication, resiliency and courage,” said Maj. Shaun O’Dell, 81st Security Forces Squadron defense force commander. “We’re honored to have served with him and wish him all the best in his new life as simply Gamma.”