Dougherty County --Governor Sonny Perdue officially proclaimed this "military dog handler day" in the state of Georgia. Dogs and their handlers at Albany's Marine Base were honored Friday as this year's outstanding training site.
Some of Albany's military dogs are heroes that have served in the war on terrorism. Like Eddo, a six year old U.S. Marine explosive detection dog, based in Albany.
Eddo and his handler Corporal Larry Mayberry just returned in September from Iraq, where for seven months they sniffed out terrorist weapons. Corporal Larry Mayberry said "Eddo found two I.A.D.'s and one weapon cache. " Do you think that saved people's lives? Oh, it definitely did."
Eddo and the other military dogs at MCLB Albany were honored by representatives from the Governor's Office, on Military Dog Handler Day. Dogs like Max, a nine year old narcotics dog, can find drugs and protect their handlers like no other species can.
These handlers train these dogs daily at the Marine Base, and stand ready to help South Georgia Police, or fight the war on terrorism in Iraq. Ken Besecker presented the proclamation. He is a veteran dog handler from Vietnam, who says he would not be alive today if not for his military dog partners, and still works to honor them. Besecker said "they trust their lives to these dogs, and they put other peoples lives in that trust. So it's important."
Also honoring the Marine Base's dogs was Dixie Whitman from Canton, who helped found the Military Working Dog Team Support Association. Since 2002 Dixie has sent supplies and support to military dogs and their handlers in the Middle East. Dixie Whitman said "we try to support handlers. They are overseas that we are aware of, that we can help in that way."
Aldo is an Iraq and Secret Service veteran explosive detector, who has to be muzzled to train. His bite is too powerful for the padded suits trainers wear.
The Marines say these dogs stand ready to protect the nation, and deserve the proclamation. Mayberry said "I appreciate everyone coming out and showing the appreciation for the dogs and what they do."
Aldo, Eddo, and Max and all the other Albany Marine Dogs, honored officially with their own day.
Governor Sonny Perdue is a veterinarian who worked with war dogs while in the service, and started honoring the military dog handlers in 2002.