Air Force veterans aren’t usually presented a bone with their certificate of retirement, but Astra and Marky aren’t your typical airmen.

The ribbon-decorated vests they wore at their joint retirement ceremony weren’t unusual, nor was their combined 21 years of service. It was their tails that stood out at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.

Staff Sgt. David Mussio, 20th Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, stands with Marky in a deployed location, circa 2015. Marky, now a Purple Heart recipient, was trained as a patrol explosive detector and deployed six times. (Air Force)
Staff Sgt. David Mussio, 20th Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, stands with Marky in a deployed location, circa 2015. Marky, now a Purple Heart recipient, was trained as a patrol explosive detector and deployed six times. (Air Force)

Astra and Marky are patrol explosive detector military working dogs with the 20th Security Forces Squadron. On March 14, they officially transitioned from service members to pets.

“I’ve seen too many memorials for K9s, so I wanted something special that everybody can actually see and enjoy,” said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Wolfe, 20th SFS operations superintendent, in a press release.

Astra, 11, became a patrol explosive detector dog in 2008 and served with the 20th Security Forces Squadron until her retirement on March 14, 2018. (Air Force)
Astra, 11, became a patrol explosive detector dog in 2008 and served with the 20th Security Forces Squadron until her retirement on March 14, 2018. (Air Force)

Astra and Marky swept nearly 110,000 vehicles and facilities at Shaw and overseas, supporting Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel, among others.

Marky, who deployed six times, has a Purple Heart for injuries suffered in an explosion with his handler, according to the press release.

Marky walks with Staff Sgt. Jason McCarthy, 20th Security Forces Squadron MWD handler, following his ‘final ride’ at Shaw Air Force Base. Marky and Astra received their final rides in police vehicles before their retirement ceremony. (Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves/Air Force)
Marky walks with Staff Sgt. Jason McCarthy, 20th Security Forces Squadron MWD handler, following his ‘final ride’ at Shaw Air Force Base. Marky and Astra received their final rides in police vehicles before their retirement ceremony. (Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves/Air Force)

Both dogs can look forward to the easy life now.

“No longer will [Astra] be known as military working dog,” said Staff Sgt. David Mussio, 20th SFS MWD trainer and Astra’s new owner, in the statement. “She gets the chance to really be a pet, [no longer hearing] the word ‘no,’ she gets to lay on the bed, she gets to lay on the couch, she gets to eat what she wants. She really gets to enjoy life now.”

Astra guards her bone during her MWD retirement ceremony. Astra deployed five times as a MWD. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)
Astra guards her bone during her MWD retirement ceremony. Astra deployed five times as a MWD. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)