Military working dogs can only work so long until they need to retire, however, just because their handler is transferred doesn’t mean they transfer right along with them. That was the case of Emra, who became bonded with her handler, Adam. The two were separated over 3 years until they had a long-awaited homecoming. This story of a military man and his dog won’t spare you tears.
It was an emotional event 3 years in the making when Bethel, Ohio resident Adam Wylie saw a familiar furry face: Emra, the Belgian Malinois. The Mal was his beloved friend when the two were at the Osan Air Base in South Korea and now were together after several years apart.
17. South Korea
Bethel, Ohio resident Adam Wylie was a staff sergeant for the U.S. Air Force when he was sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea. The assignment was hard as his wife had just given birth to their first child, however, he was devoted to his country. He arrived in South Korea missing his family but determined to follow his mission.
16. Separated from Family
The separation from his family was hard, at times, to bear. However, Adam took comfort in a new partner, the Mal named Emra. Adam was sent to South Korea just 25 days after the birth of his daughter so Emra was good company. As Emra’s handler, the two spent hours together each day.
15. Protecting the Base
Emra and Adam would do patrol duties on the base and did so from 2012 to 2014. They were important figures in the security of the base residents and guests, even performing sweeps during visits from top U.S. officials such as President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
14. Belgian Malinois
Though they might look like German Shepherds at first glance, Mals are actually a different breed. They’re incredibly smart and have been used throughout various military forces such as the British Special Service, the Navy Seals, and the Air Force. Emra was a valuable member of the air base and Adam was pleased to work with her.
13. Emotional Support
Adam credits Emra as a key part of his emotional support system as he was away from his family. Speaking to The Cincinnati Enquirer, he said “ Emra was one of the first individuals I came into contact with. She was also the one I looked to for emotional support with my family being so far away. We worked 12 to 13-hour shifts and she was the only person I had to talk to.”
Military personnel and their Mals often form tight bonds, and that was definitely the case for Emra and Adam. “I see Emra as a person,” he said. “(We have) a deep emotional bond that can’t be touched.” With Emra by his side, his mission was a bit easier to perform.
Their time together was full of memories, including the visit from Vice President Joe Biden. Adam told Cincinnati’s WCPO that Emra actually ended up jumping into Biden’s vehicle. “She couldn’t stop hitting the car horn. Some of the agents were a little upset.” Laughing, he said that they also remembered it was an animal and they do what they want.
10. More than a Dog
The two years they spent together showed Adam that Emra was more than just a dog, she was a beloved friend. That fact hit home even more after he transferred to a base in Texas. Emra didn’t come with him and instead stayed behind in South Korea. While she was bonded to Adam, the base needed her.
9. Visiting Emra
Even Adam’s family had seen the care and devotion Adam had for the dog when they visited him in South Korea. While his family was there, they had fed, bathed, and played with the dog and even watched them train.
8. Leaving Emra Behind
Adam told WCPO that it hurt to leave the Mal behind but duty called. He was grateful for the chance to be back in the United States as it was closer to his family. He would be able to see his wife and young daughter along with the rest of his family much easier. Still, Emra wasn’t there and she was his family too.
7. A New Career
After 12 years serving with the Air Force, he decided to move on to a new career. Adam became a K9 Handler and security specialist for the U.S. State Department in May 2017. As for Emra, she was getting near retirement age and he wondered if he could possibly bring her home.
6. Emra’s Duty Ends
At 9 years old, Emra was showing signs of arthritis and it was clear she was near retirement. She was still in Korea and Adam wanted to be reunited with her. They were thousands of miles apart, but luckily they had help with the task.
5. American Humane
American Humane is an organization that helps promote the welfare of animals including reuniting military working dogs with their handlers. The group was interested in helping Adam be reunited with Emra and partnered with Crown Media Group to do so. The two worked together and funded the cost of relocation with the help of individual donors.
4. Together at Last
Finally, it was time for the joyous reunion. Emra was in the United States and would soon meet Adam, his wife, and their child, now age 4. The family would be officially adopting Emra and would let her live out her golden years at their Bethel home. The local news was there and it was going to be broadcast on a special segment for the Hallmark Channel.
3. The Reunion
Adam couldn’t help shedding a tear as he saw his beloved Mal after three years apart. The two had seen each other on FaceTime but not in the flesh for so long. He was worried that Emra wouldn’t recognize him because of this fact. Would she?
2. Happy to See Adam
“As Emra approached me for the first time since Osan, she was so distracted by the cameras and all the equipment, that she hesitated for a moment to smell the lenses and microphones,” he told reporters. But then, Erma saw Adam and was elated. “She looked right at me, nuzzled into my neck, and licked my face. She had not forgotten the long shifts together posted out in the middle of nowhere or the endless hours training together.”
1. New Family, New Friends
Now Emra lives with Adam and his family outside Cincinnati. He says she has plenty of land to roam on and a Jack Russell Terrier, his father’s dog, is her new “battle buddy.” It seems like the perfect retirement for this hardworking dog who gave so much to our country.