WASHINGTON - Five working U.S. military dogs were honored Wednesday with American Humane’s Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage.
The dogs were honored for extraordinary valor and service to the country with awards created by American Humane and philanthropist Lois Pope.
“These remarkable dogs work side-by-side with the men and women of our armed forces, performing vitally important and life-saving work, while putting their own lives on the line for our country,” Pope said. “It is high time that their valiant sacrifices and contributions to our nation and our men and women in uniform are properly recognized at the highest levels.”
The award winners include Coffee, Alphie, Capa, Ranger and Gabe.
Coffee, 13, served three tours of duty in Afghanistan with her handler, Army Sgt. 1st Class James Bennett. Together, they located bombs and security threats.
She was targeted by the Taliban, but made sure troops she was protecting always made it home alive.
Coffee, a chocolate lab, retired in December after 9 1/2 years of service.
Alphie, a black lab, worked with Marine Lance Cpl. William Herron. He would sweep for explosives and communication equipment. Alphie also helped surprise the Taliban to take out drug processing plants.
He served two tours before retiring from military service in 2014. Alphie, 7, is now part of the TSA Canine Explosives Detection Program.
Capa has been awarded the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal for meritorious service.
The 10-year-old dog was an explosives and patrol dog who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He provided security for missions that protected the president, first lady and secretary of defense.
Capa also provided safety and security for a fleet of a dozen U.S. naval ships and 26,000 personnel.
He served for nine years. Capa is now retired with his handler, Navy Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Megan Wooster.
Ranger, an 8-year-old black lab, served as an explosives detection dog in Afghanistan and Iraq. He specialized in finding improvised explosive devices.
He suffered heat stroke and retired in 2012.
Ranger was adopted by a retired police sergeant, Kirk Adams, and his wife. He is battling cancer, but Adams said he still diligently checks every car that visits his home for bombs as if he were still working.
Gabe, a yellow lab, was honored in memoriam, as he died in 2013 after completing more than 210 combat missions in Iraq with 26 explosive and weapons finds.
He was adopted from Texas shelter as a puppy. Gabe served as a search dog for the Army. When he retired in 2009, he had earned more than 40 awards and coins of excellence.
He was the American Kennel Club Heroic Military Working Dog in 2008, and won the top title of American Hero Dog from American Humane.
Gabe and his handler, Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Shuck traveled the country as ambassadors for American Humane and advocates for shelter pets.
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