An unsung military hero has received a final honor
Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith found out that his former partner-turned-pet was going to have to be put down.
Bodza was paired with Smith during a deployment in 2012 to Kyrgyzstan. But while Bodza was a working dog, meant to keep his partner and national interests safe, Smith considered his partner a gentle giant.
"He was trained to bite, but I swear he only did it to make people happy. He had no interest in the world of hurting anyone," Smith told Inside Edition.
When Bodza was retired from service two years later, Smith's superior had a surprise for him.
"They went out and put a bowl, a brand-new leash and two collars, and they put (Bodza) at the back of my Jeep. I got to take him home the same day he retired," Smith said.
Smith noticed last year that his companion wasn't doing well.
He thought a case of hip dysplasia prevented the dog from being able to jump into his vehicle. But he eventually realized that Bodza was in pain and wasn't able to easily walk, Inside Edition reported.
Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. Smith made the decision to put Bodza out of his misery.
That day came last week.
"I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, 'I'm going to miss you'," Smith said.
When his bosses found out what was happening at the veterinarian’s office, they went there to give Smith and Bodza their support.
Then asked staff for a special honor: the building’s American flag to drape over Bodza to honor him for his service.
"The worst thing you can do is not to recognize these dogs for what they are. For these guys to do this for a dog they've never even met... he got a good sendoff that day," Smith told Inside Edition.