Heartbreaking farewell as soldier drapes American flag over body of his canine partner

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It was a heartbreaking moment when a U.S. Air Force soldier held his beloved German shepherd that served alongside him until the very end last week and . As reported by Inside Edition, Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith found out that his former partner-turned-pet had to be humanely euthanized because of a severe disease affecting the very quality of the devoted dog’s life. And so an American flag helped to pay the proper respect for a military hero.Soldier drapes flag over mil 2

For nearly Bodza’s entire 12-years of life, the German shepherd served the United States as a military dog. In 2012, the canine hero was paired with Smith while in deployment in Kyrgyzstan. And when Bodza was retired by the government a few years later, Smith was there to adopt him; since then the two have seen each other through a number of life’s challenges, but that was alright – anyone with a love for their dog knows the loyalty to each other. Bodza loved life- he loved long car rides, chasing shadows, licking windows when he became excited and the companionship of his human friend:

“My boss said, ‘Hey, go check your Jeep,'” Smith recalled. “They went out and put a bowl, a brand new leash and two collars, and they put [Bodza] at the back of my Jeep. I got to take him home the same day he retired.”

So when years later, Bodza had trouble jumping into Smith’s jeep, it was originally thought the dog suffered from age related arthritis or hip dysplasia – so common with German shepherds. Smith monitored the dog’s condition for months, but when his front legs weakened and the dog would slip beneath his own legs, further testing was performed. Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, an incurable disease that affected his spinal cord, and Smith was forced to make the difficult decision to euthanize Bodza.

“I held him in my arms the entire time. I’ve never cried that much my entire life. It was the saddest thing — he was dragging himself along the tile floor because it was hard to maneuver. Instead of putting him on the table, I had a minute with him on the floor,” Smith explained. “I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.’ “My boss immediately said, ‘Where’s your American flag? You should have one in your building. Find it for me now.'” Smith said.

They then draped the flag over Bodza’s body, in recognition for his service to the country. And so we lose another American hero, but he was honored just as all those who serve our country should be. Rest in peace Bodza. You served our country as a hero.

(Photos of Bodza draped with American flag via Inside Edition)

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17 replies
  1. Nancy Raymond says:

    This is heartbreaking – but it is wonderful to know that Sgt. Kyle Smith truly loved Bodza and adopted him. You gave him a safe loving home Sgt. Smith and when it is time you and Bodza will be reunited.

  2. Michelle Morgan says:

    My GS had the same horrible disease….so easy to confuse with hip dysplasia or old age. I, too, had to put her to sleep. Had my vet come to the house, and she passed to the rainbow bridge while in her favorite bed, looking out the window, with my arms wrapped around her. God Bless BODZA and his human.

  3. linda says:

    I take comfort knowing that Bodza had a loving owner and that he served our country. Unlike today with military dogs who have a chance to be adopted and brought to the US. The dogs who served our country during WWII were euthanized by getting shot after the war ended.. RIP Bodza and my condolences to Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith.

  4. ellen cottone says:

    “Day is Done, Gone the Sun,
    From the lake, From the Hill,
    From The Sky.

    All is Well, Safely Rest,
    God is Nigh.

    Go to Sleep, Peacful sleep.
    May the soldier or sailor,
    God keep.
    On the Land Or the Deep,
    Safe in sleep”.

    Parts of the poetic lyrics to
    Taps , Day is Done.1862

    As an American You owe it to your self
    To familiarise your self with the poem and back story.
    You will have a vivid understanding of things you had no idea happened.
    Could happen. It did.

    In Deepest Graditude.
    To the Other…
    American Heros.
    The United States of American War Dogs.

  5. Audra Lacey-Ehrlich says:

    Thank ypu for your service my angel I fur god bless you unto your together again love from Boston Massachusetts

  6. Kathleen Drude says:

    Rest Bodza In My Dreams We Run Together!
    Until We Meet Again! The sun shines on you! You run and play lots of food always! Cool clear water always to drink! Good nite Bodza!


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