Lifestyle & Human Interest

Explosive Detection Dog Gets 21-Gun Salute After Taking Last Breath


A three-legged explosive detection dog received full military honors after his death at a moving ceremony in San Antonio, Texas.

Sgt. Rambo, an ambassador for military dogs’ rights, served in the Marine Corps from 2011-2012.

He lost a leg during training, was medically discharged, and went to live with retired Army veteran Lisa Phillips.

Sgt. Rambo died on Feb. 10 and was honored at VFW post 76 at a ceremony that brought Phillips to tears.

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“It was absolutely beautiful,” Phillips told WFMY-TV. “They did the 21-gun salute, they did the folding of the flag, presented me with the flag.”

“It was just really special,” she said.

During his career, Sgt. Rambo worked faithfully to protect American lives.

“He did 620 state-side searches, two official missions state-side and about a thousand hours of training,” Phillips said.

Sgt. Rambo is one of several retired military dogs that Phillips has adopted.

Phillips has a passion for the welfare of retired military dogs and worked to advocate for legislation that would give canine veterans proper medical care after retirement.

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She worked alongside North Carolina congressman Walter Jones to introduce the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act which passed in 2013.

The act requires that military dogs be reclassified from mere “equipment,” to canine members of the Armed Forces.

In a bittersweet ending, Jones passed away on the same day as Sgt. Rambo.

“I almost find comfort knowing they went together because they served so honorably for veterans and animal welfare,” Phillips said.

“I know that there’s a reason for it,” she said. “God is amazing and he’s going to bring beauty out of ashes.”

Phillips intends to continue advocating for the welfare of military dogs through her nonprofit, Gizmo’s Gift, which funds medical treatment for military working dogs.

“Rambo was a huge part of that mission. And no matter what, we will continue the fight because these dogs deserve it,” Phillips said.

“They put their lives on the line. They don’t get a paycheck,” she said.

“We really owe our freedoms in part to these dogs,” Phillips added. “If I can help another dog or another handler, then Rambo’s legacy lives on and that’s all I can ask for.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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