Chrach: Decorated MWD retires

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Courtesy photo

After eight years of serving in the military, Chrach (pronounced “crash”), 56th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog, retired in May and was given into the care of his first trainer at Luke Air Force Base.

An 8-year old German shepherd from the Netherlands, he was a puppy when he joined the Air Force and began training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio. This was basic training canine style. Chrach learned foundational obedience and began learning bomb detection.

In 2008, when Chrach arrived at Luke, he met then Staff Sgt. Kyle Alltop, 56th SFS MWD handler, whose job it was to make Chrach ready for deployment.

Their first assignment was checking cars entering the area of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Chrach immediately proved himself by finding two bombs. He also worked at the World Trade Center and at the Statue of Liberty, along with more than 100 other dog teams including a second team from Luke.

During his career, Chrach deployed to Kuwait for two years with Alltop. Besides his regular duties, Chrach boosted the morale of other service members.

“On deployment, Soldiers would come up and lay down with him or pet him,” Alltop said. “When my child was born, I was with Chrach. When my dad passed, Tech. Sgt. Jessica Keller, (56th SFS MWD handler), brought him to my dad’s funeral. He’s the best therapy dog you could ask for. While dogs are classified as equipment, we treat them like dogs, with affection, respect and admiration. They are tools to use in war, but they also provide companionship and a friendly tail wag to someone having a bad day. Of course, in the end, he’s
there to find bombs and get the bad guys.”

From the beginning Alltop made it clear Chrach was his dog, that anyone else Chrach worked with was just “borrowing” the dog. Alltop trained Keller when she entered the Luke canine unit, and she took Chrach on his second Gulf tour. Alltop’s fellow handlers took good care of Chrach, and they say he took good care of them.

Chrach was attached to Luke for his entire career. Besides being sent to the Middle East four times, he had many shorter assignments including Mexico with the Secret Service and the vice president and to Chicago to provide security for the president.

Chrach’s third handler, Tech. Sgt. Steven Bruner, was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Action Medal largely for the detection successes of Chrach on their 2012 Afghanistan deployment. Chrach was credited with significant roadside bomb finds that saved lives and enabled safe movement for troops, the host nation and the local population.

Chrach did his fourth tour with Staff Sgt. Scott Emmick, 56th SFS MWD handler, who said, “I trust him with my life when called upon to be in dangerous situations due to his training and the flawless tests he has passed in his line of duty.”

Through the years, Chrach developed medical issues in his lower back caused mostly by walking, so he was given retirement. In 2015, Chrach received the 12th Annual Animal Hero Award.

In a ceremony this May, held at the Western Region K-9 Trials in Goodyear, Keller handed Chrach’s leash to Alltop.

Even though Chrach is retired, Alltop trains him daily, keeping his skills sharp, and Wednesdays, they train with police department K-9 teams near Prescott. He also keeps Chrach’s scent detection skills sharp by hiding things for him to find.

Chrach loves to swim so that has become part of his program. Alltop says Chrach’s life is going to be hanging out with the family, swimming in the lake and having the best life he can have.