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MWD Kato Retires After Eight Years of Service

A MWD takes part in a retirement ceremony.

Military Working Dog (MWD) Kato enjoys a bone during a retirement ceremony held in in his honor at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 19, 2021. The retirement ceremony was conducted to recognize and honor the years of service that MWD Kato gave to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Nicholson)

A MWD receives a certificate from leadership as part of a retirement ceremony.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kevin Collett, 20th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) commander, left, presents the Meritorious Service Certificate to Military Working Dog (MWD) Kato with the help of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Armand Myers, 20th SFS MWD handler, during a retirement ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 19, 2021. The retirement ceremony was conducted to recognize and honor the years of service that MWD Kato gave to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Nicholson)

A MWD receives a medal as part of a retirement ceremony.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kevin Collett, 20th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) commander, left, awards Military Working Dog (MWD) Kato the Meritorious Service Medal during a retirement ceremony with the help of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Armand Myers, 20th SFS MWD handler at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 19, 2021. The retirement ceremony was conducted to recognize and honor the years of service that MWD Kato gave to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Nicholson)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Security Forces Squadron held a retirement ceremony for Military Working Dog Kato at the MWD Kennels obedience yard on Nov. 19, to pay tribute to his career as he retires from active duty.

The ceremony began with a “Final Ride,” that saw Kato enter the yard in a patrol vehicle, followed by multiple speeches recounting his accomplishments, concluding with the publishing of Kato’s retirement order and presentation of his Meritorious Service Medal and bone.

Kato served as a patrol explosive detector and his accolades include three successful deployments and over thirty secret service missions, some of which contributed directly to the protection of the president.

“While he was on presidential detail, he basically worked the search pit,” said Staff Sgt. Tracker Hardin, 20th SFS kennel master. “This mainly consisted of him searching cargo trucks at a checkpoint. Kato would also do route sweeping, which meant that on the route the president would take to get to an event or airport, Kato would have to search anything that was above or below the road, like a ridge or an intersection, to make sure it was clear.”

Over the course of his career, Kato swept over 200,000 vehicles and facilities. He was also the sole MWD for five National Airborne Operation Center visits to Shaw, clearing 75 vehicles and 210 rooms, fortifying a $223 million protection level one aircraft.

“I think what sets Kato apart from other military working dogs is his willingness to work,” said Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Peterkins, 20th SFS operations superintendent. “He has a hunger and a drive to do the work and keep working past his breaking point. It’s not just what he’s done for the 20th Fighter Wing, but what he’s done for the Department of Defense as a whole. Everywhere he’s gone he has done a job that ensured the safety of so many people.”