Rescue Dog Providing Support to Families of Fallen Soldiers

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    Photo courtesy of Paws of War
    Photo courtesy of Paws of War

    The families of U.S. service members killed while on duty overseas face incomprehensible grief and stress. The same goes for the servicemen and woman who support them during this unimaginable time. The men and woman of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations (AFMAO) Dover Air Base are in charge with rendering the support and honors during the dignified transfer of remains at the Dover, Delaware Air Force Base. They are the only Air Force base in America that all the fallen come through. A dog named Blaze is part of that special team, as he provides support to the families.

    “It’s amazing how Blaze can read people and he knows when to step in and provide emotional support,” says Robert Misseri, the co-founder of Paws of War. “He honestly exceeds everyone’s expectations and provides such amazing support to people during their time of need.”

    A unique member of the AFMAO support team, Blaze is a two-year old rescued standard poodle that was gifted to Captain Kilgore by Paws of War, after being rescued by them in 2022. He now serves as a United States Air Force Base therapy dog alongside active-duty military Air Force Chaplain, Captain William Kilgore. Like many of the 5,000-plus animals, Paws of War has rescued over the last 10 years, Blaze was rescued from unspeakable conditions in an environment run by illegal breeders that severely neglected him.

    Through Paws of War, Blaze underwent months of therapy, rehabilitation, training, and special care. As a result, he successfully recovered from his ailments and injuries that were a result of months of abuse and neglect. To the surprise of all involved with his rehabilitation, Blaze flourished beyond expectations and his potential as a therapy dog was soon recognized. Blaze was so effective with military staff and team members at AFMOA, it was recommended that he become a full-time member of Captain Kilgore’s team.

    Blaze was fully adopted by Air Force Captain William Kilgore the on-base Chaplain at Dover Air Base in 2023, and now serves as an integral member of his support team. Captain Kilgore’s experience with therapy dogs prior to joining the military helped guide his decision to seek out and enlist Blaze.

    Blaze’s mission is to “lift the spirits” of those serving on-base and aid in therapeutic and emotional support to all that require or seek it. Blaze provides comfort during times of crisis and stress at Dover. Blaze starts the day like any normal dog. But when it is time, he “goes to work” every day with Chaplain Captain Kilgore.

    Throughout any given day, Blaze will attend meetings, “make the rounds” of the facility and base, interacting with base personnel and visitors alike. In addition, his main responsibility is to be present during the welcoming of families of a fallen service members, stand by the service men and women of the AFMAO during the transfer of a flag covered casket., and meet with the families of the fallen if requested by the immediate family. It is always at this moment Captain Kilgore is reminded that he made the right decision in bringing Blaze on.


    “Since Blaze has joined us, every single family here for a Dignified Transfer has requested time with Blaze,” says Captain Kilgore. “Blaze has had a tremendous impact on everyone that meets him.”

    Paws of War also focuses on giving back to veterans in various ways. They have helped veterans with numerous issues, including suicide prevention, service and support dogs, companion cats and dogs, food insecurity, veterinary care, etc. Paws of War has a large loyal following of supporters and looks forward to working with new corporate sponsors to support these life-saving programs. To donate to help their mission, visit its site at http://pawsofwar.org.

    Photo courtesy of Paws of War
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