Malmstrom Air Force Base honors fallen military dog

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. – The 341st Security Forces Squadron held a remembrance ceremony at the Grizzly Bend for one of Malmstrom’s military working dogs who passed away early this month.

Aslan, 341st SFS MWD, was honored for his dedicated service to the base and the nation Friday after succumbing to his rapid decline in health in early June.

Aslan was a German Shepherd, born in January 2008 who was certified as an explosive detection dog on June 8, 2010. Aslan was assigned to the 341st SFS in December 2010 and performed more than 9,500 hours to installation security as well as serving the state of Montana with more than 25 responses to bomb threats and a deployment to Iraq. Aslan also supported federal and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country in numerous explosive missions supporting presidential, foreign and domestic dignitaries.

“It’s extremely important to honor our military working dogs,” said Senior Airman Keith Retuyan, 341st SFS MWD handler and Aslan’s handler at the time of his passing. “They are not just a dog, a tool nor a piece of equipment. They are our brothers and sisters and we treat them as we treat one another.”

Retuyan graduated handler training in February 2017 and worked with Aslan for less than four months before his passing in June.

Aslan’s remains were displayed in front of his official photo beside an empty kennel and an upside-down bucket on top. The bucket symbolized no more need to feed and water or give any necessities to the dog after its passing.

A flag was folded in Aslan’s honor and a bell was rang to signify bringing a dog home.

The first ring signifies the handler calling out to the dog to let him know it is time to start his journey home. The second ring signifies the dog coming home for the last time. The third ring signifies the dog has laid his head down to rest and his journey has ended.

Taps was played and Aslan was paid his final respects.

“I know Aslan is up there looking down on us and I know he sees and appreciates all of the love and support,” Retuyan said. “It didn’t really hit me until he actually moved on and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my military career.”

Aslan’s remains will be given to Staff Sgt. Storm Doromal, Aslan’s previous handler of three years.

“I, like the rest of us MWD handlers, will say that my dog is the epitome of a (MWD), the poster boy or dog of obedience, the envy of the kennel and the pinnacle of success,” Doromal said. “Aslan was all of the above.”

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