K-9 Airman gone but not forgotten

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA. -- A tearful goodbye became a celebration of life for one of Barksdale’s former security forces K-9’s.

 

Retired military working dog, Febe, was given full military honors after being euthanized for having terminal prostate and bladder cancer.

 

“Febe’s more than just a dog to me,” said retired Tech. Sgt. Tommy Hollis, Febe’s owner and former military working dog handler. “He was like a comrade in arms.”

 

Hollis, a security forces Airman who retired in 2014, trained with Febe in 2007 before they both deployed to Camp Victory in Baghdad from October 2008 to April 2009. Febe, trained as a patrol explosive detector dog, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and Iraq Freedom Medal with Hollis.

 

“We did searches for explosives,” Hollis said. “He saved my life and other’s lives many times. He holds a very special place in my heart.”

 

In the three years they served side-by-side, Hollis recalls a lighter moment they shared while working alongside the Secret Service in support of a presidential detail in New Orleans.

 

“We were providing presidential support and had been searching all day at the hotel (for potential threats) and when we came out, Febe decided he needed to go to the bathroom. We didn’t make it out quick enough, so he peed on the presidential awning,” Hollis chuckled.

 

Before coming into Hollis’ life, Febe served and trained with other Airmen. Staff Sgt. Stephen Lammers, whose first K-9 partner was Febe in 2010, and his last in 2015, remembers the confusion Febe’s name would cause.

 

“People hear Febe and think ‘she’ but it’s a ‘he’ – his name throws everyone off,” said Lammers. “He was always fun, always energetic. He had probably the best nose in the kennel when it came to detection – a phenomenal nose.”

 

He remembers what the made the furry, four-legged Airman one of the best dogs for a service member to train with.

 

“He’s what you would call a push-button dog,” Lammers said. “In our career field we have dogs that are hard and really energetic. A push-button dog is one you give to a new handler because the dog already knows it all. When you tell the dog to do something, they already know what to do. In a way, the dog is actually training the handler.”

 

For Staff Sgt. DeMarcus Oguin from the 307th Security Forces Squadron, working with a military canine becomes a way of life.

 

“To me it’s more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Honestly, it’s like having a son or another child,” Oguin said.

 

Like Hollis and Lammers, Oguin felt a special connection with Febe despite only working with him for a year.

 

“One day I came into work not feeling too good, Febe wanted to play with his ball. After we played with his ball a few times, he tried to jump in the car but the door was closed and he hit his head. He would do silly things and make you forget about the bad day you were having,” he said laughing.

 

Oguin was excited when Febe finally had the chance to retire.

 

“I was happy for him because there was no more work and he could just relax and enjoy life,” he said.

“Sergeant Hollis would call the office every day wanting to see him. So when he retired everyone in the squadron knew that Febe was going home with Sergeant Hollis.”

 

The Hollis’ welcomed Febe into their family after his retirement in 2015.

 

“My wife was initially scared of big dogs,” Hollis said. “She knows he was trained to bite and was really worried, but then she saw his personality and fell in love with him.”

 

Febe quickly made himself at home.

 

“I knew there was a chance we were going to get him,” said Nick, Hollis’ 12-year-old son. “No one told me that we were going to get him that day, but I just came home from school one day and he was just in the backyard and I loved it.”

 

Febe’s final day was spent with family, friends, law enforcement and Airmen. His last radio call was broadcast through the security forces patrol vehicles. Security forces Airmen lined the streets to render Febe’s final salute and to honor one of their own.

 

Hollis described Febe in a way that anyone who knew him would remember him for.

 

“Febe was kind of clumsy, but always had a smile on his face,” he said. “He was like a teddy bear. That’s what he is.”