Honoring the Fallen

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob G. Sisco, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest

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SILVERDALE, Wash – The Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Military Working Dog (MWD) Kennels will be honoring a fallen Master-at-Arms by naming a MWD after him.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Sean Brazas was killed in Afghanistan while conducting combat operations trying to help a fellow serviceman, May 30, 2012. His military working dog, Sicario, survived.

Brazas will have a 2 1/2 year old Belgian Malinois named in his honor. MWD Bbrazas began his formal military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas on Jan. 4, 2016. He arrived to Naval Base Kitsap on March 23, 2017. He is scheduled to be certified to work in late April 2017.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Robert Dorato will be MWD Bbrazas’ first handler. Dorato has been a dog handler for one year.

“I personally did not know MA2 Brazas,” said Dorato. “But you cannot go anywhere in the MWD community without hearing his name and his back-story. I was not in the MWD program when he was in, but I remember his death and the impact it had on the MA community as a whole. Now, being in the MWD program, I see how much more the K-9 community felt it.”

Brazas is the second master-at-arms to have a MWD named after him. The first one is named after Master-at-Arms 1st Class John Douangdara. Douangdara was one of 31 U.S. service members who died in the Aug. 6, 2011, CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in the Wardak province of Afghanistan.

“It means a great deal to be this dog’s handler, it means even more to be the dog’s first handler,” said Dorato. “At this kennel we all know of Sean and that this will forever be his kennel, to have a dog named after him will hold his legacy for all handlers that pass through NBK kennels.”

“Having a dog that is named after someone who was killed on the battlefield is the ultimate honor,” said Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Kennel Master, Chief Master-at-Arms David Gutierrez. “I am honored to contribute to Sean’s legacy. He gave the ultimate sacrifice. I did not know Sean personally. I remember getting a phone call on a late night when I was on a treadmill at Joint Base Little Creek. It was the first time I was made aware of his death. Little did I know, I would be in charge of taking approximately 10 MWD Teams to participate in Sean’s ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Fast forward three years later and I’m checking onboard NBK only to work his old partner MWD Sicario. Add two years to that and I receive a dog named in his honor. It closes that whole circle. Very humbling.”

It might seem that a MWD named after a fallen Sailor would be viewed as special. But that is not the case, because all MWDs are special.

“I don’t believe it will change the way the public views the dog because everyone already has great respect for the MWDs,” said Dorato. “But to the family and friends of MA2 Brazas and to other handlers, MWD Bbrazas will forever be known for having the name of a handler who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

A former mentor of Brazas described him as caring, and willing to put his life on the line. The former mentor said that even if Brazas knew by helping that soldier things would turn out the way they did, Brazas would still help him.

“The command is honored to be able to take on a MWD with such a rich history behind his name,” said Gutierrez. “This was Sean’s last command before deploying. NBK Kennels will always be known as Sean’s Kennels.”

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