Virginia Funeral Honors team supports funeral for retired working dog

Members of the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Team support the funeral of retired military working dog, Falco, Feb. 8, 2018, in Abingdon, Virginia. (Photo courtesy the Bristol Herald Courier)

SANDSTON, Va. — Two members of the Virginia National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Team helped support a funeral for Falco, a retired military working dog who served for 10 years and passed away on Feb. 1, 2018, after four years in retirement. The funeral was held at Forest Hills Memory Gardens in Abingdon, Virginia.

“It was our team’s honor to perform a military funeral for Falco and his family,” said Sgt. Rodney Sanders, area coordinator for the Southwest Virginia Military Funeral Honors Team and who participated in the ceremony. “We treated the serve the same as we would any other veteran we render honors for.”

According to an article in the Bristol Herald Courier, Falco was a Belgian Malinois who spent his military career at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served as a patrol and narcotics detector dog in the U.S. Army. He served with 11 handlers during his years of service with the 42nd Military Police and the 550th Military Working Dog Detachment.

“Falco was a first for the Virginia Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Program and he was treated with the same respect all veterans deserve for their service,” Sanders said. He explained that several veterans groups also joined the Virginia National Guard Soldiers at the service, including personnel from American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

During the ceremony, a flag was presented to Falco’s family, who adopted him in 2013.

“It was a unique opportunity for our team and we were proud to be a part of it,” Sanders said.