This Memorial Day will be the first one 9-year-old German shepherd Ramos isn’t working.
Ramos, who lives with his handler and family in the Tysons Corner area of Virginia, retired last November after a little more than eight years with the Air Force of service as a military working dog.
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The K-9 had two roles during his time in the Air Force — looking for explosives and offering protection and patrol.
Malcolm Young, Ramos’ “dad” and handler, spent eleven years in the Air Force, with the majority of his time working as a K-9 trainer. The pair worked out of Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, did a tour of duty overseas and spent countless hours protecting the president and vice president along with foreign diplomats on Secret Service missions.
Ramos took part in 35 dignified transfers at the air base with the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation. Dignified transfers are done for members of the service who died while serving in a military operation. The remains are returned to Dover Air Base before being handed over to their families. Young says Ramos would go in and look around the area of the base to check for explosives and offer protection to Gold Star families and leaders of the U.S.
The Air Force also recognized Ramos for performing thousands of sweeps of buildings, vehicles and government assets during his time of service. Young says they never found a bomb while at Dover, but did stop an intruder who managed to get over a secure fence.
Young affectionately calls Ramos his “roll dawg” who has always been by his side. Young’s wife, Mimi, says she has always been grateful that the German shepherd brought her husband home safely during their deployments or missions.
As we remember the men and women of the military on Memorial Day who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our nation during their time in service, Young hopes we will also recognize the military working dogs who have also sacrificed.
“There are some dogs out there who have given their lives and have been blown up, unfortunately, but they save fifty, sixty other people in the process,” Young said.
Memorial Day also resonates with him because he believes the time in the service with Ramos helped pave a way for a better future.
“From the K-9 career field to just us in the military in general … to honor those that have fallen,” Young said.
The northern Virginia man’s grandfather and uncles also served in the U.S. military.
Ramos now spends his days playing with his favorite toys, going on fun walks and learning to be a dog again alongside his four-legged brother, Douglas, who is a French bulldog.
Young says the retired military dog still walks with a purpose, thinking he is working and searching for bombs or other explosives. Young says that it will take a while for Ramos to get used to just being a regular dog. “Douglas is teaching him how to ‘dog’ again and to be a puppy.”
Ramos has a few health issues with his hips, but Young said he will take off running with his dog brother. He added that what Ramos does most days is lay on the couch.
“This is exactly what I wanted for him, to be able to relax on the couch,” Young said.