Two military working dogs retire after years of service

  • Published
  • By Clayton Cummins

Two military working dogs  at Tinker Air Force Base are turning in their working collars for retirement.

A ceremony was held Nov. 29, 2023 for MWDs Ccarmen and Diego, both members of the 72nd Security Forces Squadron. Both Ccarmen and Diego have a combined 10 years of service with the Air Force.

Ccarmen and Diego began their military career at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, where they were trained by the 341st Training Squadron. After completing training, Ccarmen and Diego were then assigned to Tinker. The double letter in Ccarmen’s name indicates that he was born into the Air Force’s MWD program.

Ccarmen retired early as a military working dog.

Diego began his military career in May 2018. He was eventually assigned to handler SSgt. Cody Monda who worked with Diego for the last three years of his career.

Monda says Diego was an intense and stubborn dog, that was known as the problem dog in the kennels. Their relationship quickly grew as time went on.

“Diego was very good at his job and that was all that really matters at the end of the day,” said Monda. “His nose is ungodly powerful, so I felt very protected at all times. There wasn’t a second that I ever questioned him.”

During Diego’s five-year career he cleared landing zones supporting seven separate medical evacuations, cleared areas of enemy sabotage and ensured the safety of seven wounded Allied Coalition personnel. In all Diego has performed 574 random anti-terrorism measures, vetted 2,400 vehicles and completed 370 hours of explosive detection certification hours.

While deployed at the United States Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Diego alerted Air Force Office of Special Investigation Special Agents and Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technicians to the presence of explosive odor.

Closer to home at Tinker AFB, Diego provided joint security with the Secret Service for Air Force One on three separate occasions and was critical in base security efforts throughout three real world bomb threats.

“When you’re working with a dog, especially looking for explosives, your life is on the line and you’re trusting each other with your life,” said Monda. “It becomes a very intense relationship, loving and working together.”

Monda adopted Ccarmen and Diego into his family. Ccarmen will live his retirement with family while Diego will stay with Monda.

Lt. Col. Matthew Stillman, 72nd Security Forces Squadron commander, attended Ccarmen and Diego’s retirement ceremony. As a former handler and adoptee himself, Stillman says there is a special place in his heart for MWDs.

“Every time we hear Guardian of the Night, I’ve got to choke back tears just knowing what these dogs do for us,” said Stillman. “It is truly amazing how much they care for us.”

Stillman has worked with MWDs for nearly a decade.

“I think it is very similar to the bond that we share as Airmen that most civilians don’t understand,” said Stillman. “We live, eat and breathe all of the things that we do together as military and these dogs become a part of that. That dog is an extension of the handler. The camaraderie and the connection that they have goes beyond what a lot of people understand.”

“He (Diego) spends about 90% of his time sleeping on the couch upside-down like a grown man, the other 10% consists of him violently chewing on dog toys,” said Monda.

Military working dogs, both young and old, are available for adoption to the public who must meet certain requirements. Learn more about the process from the DoD Military Working Dog Adoption Program.