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Military working dogs helping keep Keesler Air Force Base safe

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – The 81st Security Forces Squadron Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base is showing off their military working dogs.

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

MWDs are trained for jobs such as tracking, explosives detection, patrol, search and rescue, and assault.

The Second Air Force is responsible for conducting basic military and technical training for 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 jobs such as tracking, explosives detection, patrolling, search and rescue,...
MWDs are trained for jobs such as tracking, explosives detection, patrol, search and rescue, and assault.(WLOX)

Victor and Gamma are assigned to the 81st Security Forces Squadron Training Wing at Keesler AFB. Victor and Gamma’s training has been in charge of the TSgt. Eric Formolo, who recently returned to the Biloxi base to oversee the MWD training program there.

“I have been in the military for 13 years. Of those 13 years, I have been in the MWD program for 10 years. I started my K9 career at Maxwell AFB where I was paired with MWD Rocky (Explosives Detection). In 2014, Rocky and I traveled to Kuwait in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Shortly after our deployment, I received orders from Keesler AFB. At Keesler AFB I worked with 2 explosive detection dogs named Zeno and Bak. In 2017 I left Keesler to become an instructor at the 341 Military Working Dog School. For the past 4 years I had been an instructor/instructor supervisor at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Handler Course. I recently transferred back to Keesler AFB and took on the role of NCOIC for the Military Working Dog Section (Kennel Master). Over the years of K9, I have performed numerous TDYs working alongside the United States Secret Service to protect the President, Vice President, First Lady, foreign leaders, the Pope, and many other high-ranking government officials.” , reads in Formolo’s biography.

MWD Victor is certified as a patrol/substance detection dog and has had four different handlers, including Sgt. 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 second to none. Dogs are a valuable asset to the base and are useful tools in making sure we protect the students on base. This is a drug-heavy area and it is important that we detect it at the gates before it reaches the base to ensure the protection of base personnel,” Wood’s biography reads.

MWD Gamma is certified as a Patrol Detector Dog and has been 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 assignment as a guide was Langley AFB in Virginia, where I was assigned to MWD Cindy, who was an explosives detection dog. Together, Cindy and I moved to Al Udied Air Base in 2019 where we were supposed to spend 6 months, but due to COVID-19 we ended up staying there for 10 months. Because of that deployment, my bond with Cindy really got stronger and she taught me the basics of being a MWD handler. Although I have now worked with two other dogs, I still love Cindy as much as when we worked together. Shortly after, PCS went to Incirlik, Turkey as a guide and was assigned to MWD Bosco, another explosive detection dog. We spent the year supporting the base and its mission. My follow-up went to Keesler AFB, where I was assigned to MWD Gamma, my third explosive detection dog. Gamma is the oldest dog I have ever worked with and has come with many challenges and rewards. Being her fourth manager is a privilege for me, and he still teaches me things about being a manager every day. In this job, training never stops and even though Gamma is almost 8 years old, she still gives 100%. This job is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” says Seretis’ bio.

The 81st Security Forces Squadron belongs to the 81st Mission Support Group. Working with a team of more than 1,600 people, the Mission Support Group provides administrative, personnel, civil engineering, transportation, morale and welfare, recreation, communications, supply, base security, and contracting services to some 75,000 people who utilize base facilities and resources with a vision of providing support excellence to enable Keesler’s mission and quality of life.

The 81st Security Forces Squadron is responsible for providing police, investigative, and force protection support for the facility and its three geographically separated family housing areas. In addition, the 81st Security Forces Squadron provides mission-ready security force defenders to fulfill wartime combatant commander tasks.

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