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Police Week; the story of MWD Rockino

(Courtesy Photos by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Powell)

(Courtesy Photos by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Powell)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla -- As Altus AFB celebrates police week, humans get a lot of credit for their work in law enforcement. However, humans aren’t the only hard workers in the police force. 


Dogs and humans have shared their lives together for more than 10,000 years and selectively breeding dogs have left us with not only friends but valuable tools.


Most modern militaries have captured the usefulness of our canine friends for a variety of purposes. 


Altus Air Force Base has its own team of Military Working Dogs who are assigned to the 97th Security Forces Squadron. 


Among these dogs was MWD Rockino, known better to his handlers as “Rocky”. 


With dark black fur and ears that were perpetually perked up, Rocky had a very recognizable appearance. On the front of his uniform he wore an “Ægishjálmr”, a Viking symbol also known as the “Helm of Awe”, which was said to grant protection and victory.


Rocky had served as a bomb dog for almost eight years. Not only did he serve the base for routine use, but Rocky found himself serving all across Southwest Oklahoma.


“Rocky has responded to several bomb threats,” said Tech. Sgt. Joe Teresi, the NCO in charge of the MWD program for the 97th SFS. “Shopping marts, several schools, restaurants, you name it.”


His abilities weren’t limited to the local area of Altus, Rocky found himself helping people all over the world.


“He’s been to Afghanistan among other places,” said Teresi. “He’s deployed to support the combat mission overseas. He’s supported the presidents along with the secret service as part of a bomb team.”


While completing his own tasks and serving the Air Force, Rocky had a habit of increasing morale for any troop who found themselves working around him. 


“I had just had double knee surgery,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Powell, a dog handler assigned to the 97th Security Forces Squadron. “When I came back they ended up saying that I was going to get Rocky as I was slowed down a bit and Rocky was slowing down as well. I made sure he stayed on task and he made sure I worked hard. We were a pretty good team together.”


In October Rocky began retirement. He spent his days on the couch with Powell as a lap dog.


“The first weeks we were home Rocky thought we were on a mission,” said Powell. “He would follow me around as if we were working. By the middle of the second week he wasn’t wearing any gear and I threw down a bunch of tennis balls and toys and he sat there stunned as if to say how great it was. He became a lazy house dog, just sleeping all day. He definitely knew he was retired.”


Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end.


Rocky passed away January 13, 2018.


“He was probably the best partner I’ve ever had,” said Powell. “The memories that we made, I’ll always have them. He was the best dog I’ve ever had and the best partner I’ve ever had.”


Airmen make connections with many people during their Air Force journey. Occasionally those connections that Airmen make will transcend species. As Altus and the Air Force say goodbye to Rocky, they should remember the good that he has done for Altus, the Air Force and the country. As a working dog, partner and pet, Rocky will be missed.