NAPLES, Italy— Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples celebrated K9 Veterans Day with a 5k run onboard NSA Naples’ Support Site, Saturday, March 11, 2023.

NSA Naples’ Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Fitness, Military Working Dog (MWD) Team, Veterinary Clinic, Naples Area Security Association (NASA), and USO joined together to recognize service dogs around the world.

“We want to increase awareness and celebrate those K-9s who have been lost in the line of duty. […] Hopefully they gain knowledge of the work the K9 team does,” said event planner and MWR Fitness’s Capodichino Fit Zone Manager Katelyn Paloma.

The event was also a showcase of the prowess and accomplishments by the MWD team and NSA Naples Security Department.

“Our outstanding Military Working Dog teams and Security Department here at NSA Naples work tirelessly to keep our community safe and secure,” Capt. James Stewart, Commanding Officer of NSA Naples. “We hope that through events like these, our community can interact with our Naval Security Forces in a more casual setting and get to know the people behind the uniform.”

Participants were able to watch a live demonstration by the MWD team conducted by two K-9 teams.

A detection demonstration was completed by Los Lunas, New Mexico native, Master-at-Arms Seaman Zion Gonzales and MWD Szana. During the exercise, Szana sniffed through suitcases to show how MWDs are trained to locate improvised explosive device (IEDs).

Szana has been a MWD for 7 years. Gonzales says she enjoys her experience as a detector dog and is very good at what she does.

When asked to describe Szana, Gonzales’ face filled with admiration as he said, “She is very loving. She is hard working—honestly she makes me look good. I just hold her leash and she does everything herself. I love that dog. She is perfect.”

A patrol demonstration was completed by Fairfax, Virginia native, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Abbie Cabrera and MWD Reno. Reno showcased his ability to assist with a vehicle extraction on a staged non-compliant suspect during a felony stop.

“My favorite part of working with MWDs is being able to teach my dog a new skill and applying it to daily tasks. Reno is intelligent, caring, clumsy, hardworking, and a fast learner. He is always eager to work and his positive attitude makes every day worthwhile,” said Cabrera.

Although only two MWDs participated in the demonstration, the department is made up of three different, specialized types of detection dogs.

Reno, Szana, MWD Gero, and MWD Qqonnor are patrol explosive dogs.

MWD Debi, MWD Toto, and MWD Toni are explosive detector dogs.

MWD Boy is a drug detection dog.

This team of eight makes its mark beyond NSA Naples by participating in security operations that support U.S. government officials, U.S. Navy ships and more.

Most recently, on Feb. 23, 2023, Debi worked alongside Kennel Supervisor Master-at-Arms 1st Class Amber Ortiz and Dog Handler Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Kashira Collins to provide security to First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden.

In November 2022, MWD teams Cabrera and Reno, Gonzales and Szana, and Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Xavier Escalante and Toni conducted port operations at Porto Napoli in support of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77). The team conducted security sweeps of 10 small boats, 4 barges, and more than 175 buses.

From November 2021 to October 2022, Cabrera and Reno deployed to Djibouti, Africa and Baledogle Military Airfield (BMA) Somalia supporting a total of three Individual Augmentees (IA).

The skills used in these operations were showcased during the K9 Veteran’s Day 5K event. The team hopes the NSA Naples community gained a better understanding of their efforts.

National K9 Veterans Day, March 13, is a day set aside to honor commemorate the service and sacrifices of American military and working dogs throughout history.

The K-9 Corps were first established on March 13, 1942 when the Army began training for its new War Dog Program, marking the first time that dogs were officially part of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Officially part of the service or not, MWDs have a long history in the U.S. Armed Forces. This includes canine heroes such as Sgt. Stubby, the original war dog; Chips, the most decorated dog in World War II; Lex, who retired with his fallen owners family; and Cairo, the Navy SEAL working dog on the bin Laden raid.

NSA Naples is an operational ashore base that enables U.S., allied, and partner nation forces to be where they are needed, when they are needed to ensure security and stability in the European, African, and Central Command areas of responsibility.

For more news on NSA Naples, please follow us on Instagram @NSANaples and Facebook at

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