CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The image, which has been shared thousands of times across social media, is powerful. It’s the loss of an unspoken bond between a man and his dog, who both served this country.
Bodza, a canine, was paired with Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith, who grew up in Gastonia, for four deployments, and provided security for many U.S. officials.
When Bodza was retired in 2014, Smith took him home as a pet.
But in the past few months, Bodza had been sick. He was in pain and suffering and had to be put down.
Smith gave Bodza a final meal, at McDonalds.
“He got a Big Mac. By the way, he didn’t leave a crumb,” Smith told Channel 9 anchor Scott Wickersham over Skype.
When Bodza was put down, Smith was by his side.
“I hugged him and told him that I loved him a lot, 'I’m gonna miss you,'” Smith said.
When a fellow military canine trainer draped an American flag over Bodza, it meant a lot to Smith. He gave his friend one final hug, which was captured in that photo.
“He was as much a part of the Air Force as me,” Smith said. “I couldn't have done the mission I did without him there.”
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