A Bite of Life


“It was a dry heat,” said Tech. Sgt. William Stone, 11th Security Support Squadron Military Working Dog trainer, recalling the day in vivid memory. “I remember just sitting in my post hearing two super loud Apaches flying above my head.”

Through that same noise, Stone heard screaming from his door that he and MWD Atos were needed for a mission.

“I was nervous, but excited,” Stone said. 

SLIDESHOW | 1 of 5 | MWD Atos A plaque sits on a desk at a memorial service for Military Working Dog Atos at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2018. In recognition of Atos’ devotion to fellow Defenders, the 11th Security Forces Group came together to mourn his loss and to celebrate his life and achievements with a memorial service. Atos served the 11th SFG for six years before passing due to a rare heart condition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delano Scott)

Thus began the first of many missions Stone and Atos would conduct together during their deployment, including searching for high-value targets. One mission was an air assault in the mountains, where they were embedded in a team composed of Navy SEALs and Afghan special forces. When they initially landed, a few Taliban ran into a tunnel and began opening fire. The team took cover and began throwing grenades and other explosives.

“The entire time, I was thinking my wife is pregnant with our first child and there’s a chance that I’ll never meet my daughter,” Stone said.

Throughout the entire battle, Atos stayed by his side.

“Seeing how fearless he was … I wasn’t nervous anymore,” Stone said. “He showed me that we would be ok.”  

For six years, Atos honorably served the 11th Security Forces Group before passing due to a rare heart condition.

In recognition of Atos’ devotion to fellow Defenders, the 11th SFG came together to mourn his loss and to celebrate his life and achievements with a memorial service last month.

Atos, a German Shepherd, was certified for explosives ordnance detection June 8, 2010, before starting his distinguished career at JBA. In six years, MWD Atos accumulated 8,000 search hours, 7,000 vehicle inspections and 100 aircraft sweeps for the president, vice president and distinguished visitors of the United States.

“Though his time was short in comparison to many of his fellow working dogs, Atos left his mark on our squadron and the Air Force,” said Col. Troy Roberts, 11th SFG commander.

For Roberts, Atos’ personality was easy to read. Through his actions, Roberts was able to recognize the innate love Atos had for his duty.

“It’s been said that our canine defenders are drafted into the service of their country,” Roberts said. “However, in Atos’ case, I believe if presented with the option to serve this great nation as an MWD, Atos’ response would be something akin to ‘So you want me to bite people for freedom? Yeah, I can do that for you.’”

According to Roberts, it took time for Atos to warm up his handlers and other human colleagues. However, this meant Atos’ loyalty to those he worked alongside had a deeper meaning than it does for most.

“I can say unequivocally, for those who worked with Atos, he loved you,” Roberts said. “There is no doubt in my mind he would have given his life to save yours without a moment’s hesitation.” 

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.