Military working dogs help keep Keesler Air Force Base safe

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – 81 Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base shows off its military working dogs.

A showcase was held at the base on Tuesday to showcase the talents of two of KAFB’s military working dogs, Victor and Gamma. Victor, a Belgian Malinois, was certified in 2018; Gamma is a 2016 certified German Shepherd.

MWDs are trained for tasks such as tracking, explosive detection, patrol, search and rescue, and attack.

The Second Air Force is responsible for the basic military and technical training of Air Force enlisted members and support officers. They train more than 250 military working dogs a year for the US government at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

MWDs are trained for tasks such as tracking, explosive detection, patrol, search and rescue, and attack.(WLOX)

Victor and Gamma are assigned to the 81st Security Forces Squadron at Keesler AFB. Victor and Gamma’s training was under TSgt. Eric Formolo, who recently returned to the Biloxi base to oversee the MWD training program there.

“I have been in the army for 13 years. Of those 13 years, I was in the MWD program for 10 years. I started my K9 career at Maxwell AFB where I was paired up with MWD Rocky (Explosives Detection). In 2014, Rocky and I deployed to Kuwait as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Shortly after our deployment, I received orders for Keesler AFB. At Keelser AFB I worked with 2 explosive detection dogs named Zeno and Bak. In 2017 I left Keesler to become an instructor at the 341st Military Working Dog School. For the past 4 years I have acted as an instructor/supervisor of instructors on the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Handlers course. I recently transferred to Keesler AFB and assumed the role of NCOIC of the Military Working Dog Section (Kennel Master). Over the years of K9, I led numerous TDYs alongside the United States Secret Service to protect the President, Vice President, First Lady, foreign leaders, the Pope, and several other senior government officials” , we read in the biography of Formolo.

MWD Victor is certified as a patrol/substance detection dog and has had four different handlers including Ssgt. Ryan M. Wood.

“I have been in the military for 4.5 years, but have only been a military working dog handler since June 2021. Although this job is new to me, I have already learned a lot and had many fun experiences. The dogs work very hard for their handlers and the bond they create is unparalleled.The dogs are a valuable asset to the base and are useful tools in ensuring that we protect the students on the base. ‘a drug-intensive area and it is important that we detect it at the gates before it reaches base to ensure the protection of base personnel,’ reads Wood’s biography.

MWD Gamma is certified as a patrol detector dog and has deployed three times with three different handlers, including SrA. Anthony L. Seretis.

“I have been in the military for 5.5 years and have been a military working dog handler for 3 years. My first posting as a handler was Langley AFB, Va. where I was assigned to MWD Cindy, who was an explosives detection dog Together Cindy and I deployed to Al Udied Airbase in 2019 where we were supposed to spend 6 months but due to COVID-19 we ended up staying there for 10 months Through this deployment, my bond with Cindy has really grown stronger and she has taught me the basics of being an MWD handler.Although I have worked with two other dogs now, I still love Cindy as much as when we were working together. Soon after, I went to PCS in Incirlik, Turkey as a dog handler and was assigned to MWD Bosco, another explosive detection dog. We spent the year to support the base and its mission. My follow-up was at Keesler AFB, where I was assigned to MWD Gamma, my third dog explosives detector. Gamma is the oldest dog I have worked with, and it has come with many challenges and rewards. Being his fourth handler is a privilege for me, and he still teaches me things about being a handler on a daily basis. In this profession, training never stops and although Gamma is almost 8 years old, he is still 100% committed. This job is the most rewarding job I have ever had,” Seretis’ biography reads.

The 81st Security Forces Squadron falls under the 81st Mission Support Group. Working with a team of over 1,600 personnel, the Mission Support Group provides administrative, personnel, civil engineering, transportation, morale and welfare, recreation, communications, supply , base security and contract services to approximately 75,000 people who use base facilities and resources with a vision to provide excellence in support to enable Keesler’s mission and quality of life.

The 81st Security Forces Squadron is responsible for providing law enforcement, investigative and force protection support for the installation and its three geographically separated family housing areas. Additionally, the 81st Security Forces Squadron provides mission-ready security forces defenders to fulfill combatant commander duties in wartime.

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Bette C. Alvarado