WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - It was a military retirement ceremony like few others at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Nov. 16. Seldom does someone wrap up their military career at age 10, but that’s what Rudo has done.
The military working dog’s nine years of service at Wright-Patterson AFB included 22 Secret Service missions in support of the president and vice president, two deployments—one to Turkey and one to Kuwait—and more than 3,000 foot patrols, according to his Certificate of Meritorious Service.
Maj. Julie Roloson, 88th Security Forces Squadron commander, also cited another part of Rudo’s legacy—helping train the squadron’s dog handlers.
“He has helped train no less than 10 of them, often tasked with breaking in the newest ones,” Roloson said.
After the ceremony, Roloson expanded on the role of older, more experienced dogs in the base’s kennel.
“We use those dogs to help break in new handlers, help train up the new handlers, to make them more comfortable,” she said.
Rudo’s last handler, Staff Sgt. Lacey Bockman, referred to him as a “push-button.”
“He pretty much knows everything,” she said. “He doesn’t need much work put into him, and he’s usually the one teaching us.”
Staff Sgt. Marshall Freeman, currently with the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd SFS, was one of the handlers trained by Rudo, but the relationship went way beyond that.
“He was my best friend!” Freeman said. “We built a bond together over the just a little over two years we were together. We toured the country together. We built a bond and we went all over the place together.”
Some of their missions included providing security for the annual U.N. General Assembly session in New York and working with the Secret Service at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s “Winter White House” in Palm Beach, Florida.
Freeman was Rudo’s handler for about a fourth of the canine’s career.
“It was amazing. I miss him every day,” Freeman said. “I tell everybody here in Minnesota about him. I show them all the pictures I have of him. I love telling stories about him, about how good a dog he was.”
Bockman describes Rudo as “super loyal” and “very dedicated.” She is repaying that loyalty by adopting him in his old age.
“I figured it would be best if he would be with someone he already knows,” Bockman said, adding he will join her other two dogs, one of which is also a retired military working dog.
She was not the only one of Rudo’s handlers looking to take him home. Freeman also wanted to adopt Rudo when he heard he was retiring, but Bockman beat him to it. Freeman wishes the best for his friend.
“I’m glad he’s retired now,” he said. “He deserves it. I’m hoping he gets all the peanut butter Kongs and chew toys (and) balls that he deserves. I miss him dearly.”