Father's life reflected through working dogs

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Four years after Erin Burgess lost her fiancé their son Charles 'Trip' Long III started asking questions about his father. This brought them to Moody to shed some light on the job his father performed as a military working dog handler.

Staff Sgt. Charles Mike 'Shorty' Long Jr. was a 824th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler stationed at Moody in 2007 when he died, leaving behind a fiancé and child on the way.

"The accident happened before Trip was born so he never had the chance to meet his father and see what he did," said Ms. Burgess. "Now Trip is getting older and starting to ask questions about his father and his career.

"Mike was a dog handler and it's important to me that Trip always remembers his dad was part of something great," she added.

This was Trip's first visit to the kennel where his father worked, and he was named an honorary MWD handler for life.

"We were contacted by the family a week before the demonstration asking if it would be possible for his wife and kid to visit and talk with the current Airmen here," said Master Sgt. Jamie Morris, 820th Combat Operations Squadron superintendent. "We wanted to get the family in as soon as possible and it just so happened to be right before Father's Day."

Trip's favorite part of the day was the bite demonstration, where the MWD pursued someone in a padded jacket who was trying to resist arrest or flee.

Trip also had the chance to look inside the kennel and meet the dogs that live in the there.

While he was touring the kennels, he had the chance to meet someone special who knew his father- Rambo. Sergeant Long was Rambo's handler during his time at the 824th SFS.

"Trip has a love for animals just like his father did," said Ms. Burgess. "This visit is something that he will eventually look back on and be really excited about."

The 820th Base Defense Group presented Trip with a few gifts to remember his father, including a dog leash.

"I want Trip to always remember what his father did," said Ms. Burgess. "I really hope throughout the years, I can bring Trip back here to keep the memory of his father alive."