Bart the dog honored for elite service at Oak Harbor's Military Appreciation Day
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
September 13, 2012 · Updated 8:51 AM
An unsung Navy hero was honored in Oak Harbor Saturday.
As a symbolic gesture in recognition of his many contributions to the United States military, the distinguished veteran was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
While most in his position would have saluted and given a speech, his response was a throaty bark and a wagging tail.
Petty Officer Bart was one of the Navy’s elite military working dogs. He has been retired from active duty and Saturday’s ceremony at the annual Military Appreciation Picnic at Windjammer Park was in recognition of his seven-year career.
“Some may not understand what we do as handlers or the importance of our working dogs, but many sailors and their families are enjoying their todays and planning their tomorrows because of what a military working dog did for them yesterday,” said Shanelle Crites, Bart’s last Navy working dog handler.
Bart’s accomplishments include missions supporting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and the Oak Harbor Police Department.
He deployed to Arifjan, Kuwait, has searched over 20,000 vehicles, 1,000 buildings, 550 open areas and 1,200 barracks.
He assisted Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Security in 32 drug calls, 28 security backups, 18 alarmed responses, 12 domestic violence calls and conducted more than 40 K9 demonstrations.
Bart was also presented with a certificate of appreciation by Oak Harbor City Councilman Joel Servatius.
“May your couch always be comfortable, may you run with the wind at your side and may each day end with a doggy treat,” said Servatius, reading from the presented certificate.
Bart has been adopted by Master of Arms Chief Petty Officer Blakeney Adams and his family.
The Military Appreciation Picnic is an annual event put on by the Oak Harbor Council of the Navy League. Organization President Jim Slowik said he was very happy with this year’s attendance as hundreds turned out to enjoy the sun and food.
“We’re cooking hotdogs just as fast as we can,” he laughed.
The event is about getting together to have a good time but mostly to honor the military in Oak Harbor, thank them for their service and let them know they are appreciated for everything they do.
“All we want to is let the troops know this is a friendly place to live and that they are welcome here,” he said.
To that end, the effort is a great success. Capt. Jay Johnston, commander of the base, said the Navy does feel welcome in the community thanks in part to events like these.
“We appreciate everything the Navy League does, and the city, too,” Johnston said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.