Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-04-17 02:54:16 GMT
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FT. KNOX, Ky. (WDRB) -- After being on active duty nearly a decade in the military, it is time for a special soldier to retire.
This soldier has served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan but after serving of nine years a doctor has ordered that she must retire for medical reasons.
She only goes by Mandy. "Mandy's seen combat experience both in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Captain Joel Maxwell.
With fellow soldiers watching, she's being honored for nine years of service with the Army Commendation Medal. "Mandy's been there and done that," said Maxwell during the ceremony.
The thing is -- Mandy is a 10 year old Belgian Malinois. Some may think it is silly to have a ceremony to honor a dog--but she is not just any canine. "They detect explosives and are able to find the IED's and find them before they are detonated on our soldiers."
Mandy, as well as other military working dogs, has saved lives overseas and stateside. "To us, the dogs are treated exactly like soldiers. Even in combat, they have the same status. If one of them is injured, we Medevac them the same as a soldier. They are basically one of us," Maxwell explained.
Fort Knox has nine dogs -- and they are pricey. "Altogether, I'm sure it's over $100,000 just to train one," said Maxwell.
A much younger Mandy can be seen in pictures on her tours overseas. She has even protected President Obama. "She's done over 80 missions for the Secret Service for presidential protection details," said Maxwell.
Maxwell says Mandy's nine years of service really translate to 70 in dog years. "It's reached the point now where medically she needs to be retired," said Maxwell.
She proudly wears the medal, but does she really understand it all? "Probably not. They probably don't understand the importance of their job. They save lives everyday," said Maxwell.
"They like being around soldiers, they recognize the uniform and the voices and the commands. They really feel -- I think as much as I can think like a dog -- I think they feel a part of the team," said Maxwell.
She will be going home with a soldier. Sergeant Richard Ferrin is her new dad. "She deserves to be at a house with kids that pet her and people that love her. She doesn't have to work anymore, she's done," said Ferrin.
For him, it was an easy decision to take her in. "We've seen the same places been the same places and experienced the same things. It's like an unspoken bond with them," added Ferrin.
Another dog is already being trained right to come to Fort Knox to replace Mandy.