PHOTO: American Hero Laid to Rest by Owner With Touching American Flag Tribute

American Hero Laid to Rest by Owner With Touching American Flag Tribute

After a lifetime of dutifully serving his nation, a hero named Bodza had to be put to rest last week due to health complications.

But Bodza was not your typical hero. He was an 11-year-old German shepherd who had served alongside his handler, Kyle Smith, in the U.S. Air Force since 2012, and his recent necessary departure from this world was not easy for Smith to endure.

“I held him in my arms the entire time,” Smith told Inside Edition, recalling Bodza being euthanized at the veterinarian’s office in El Paso, Texas. “I’ve never cried that much my entire life.”

“It was the saddest thing — he was dragging himself along the tile floor because it was hard to maneuver,” Smith added. “Instead of putting him on the table, I had a minute with him on the floor. I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.’”

It helped, though, that Smith’s superiors cared — so much so that they reportedly ordered him to find an American flag to place over the dog’s body out of respect.

“The worst thing you can do is not to recognize these dogs for what they are,” Smith noted. “For these guys to do this for a dog they’ve never even met … he got a good sendoff that day.”

One that he no doubt deserved. Learn more about his sendoff below:

Though the two met during a deployment to Kyrgyzstan five years ago, it was not until 2014 that Smith officially adopted Bodza when the dog retired from the military. It was reportedly a surprise from Smith’s superiors, who set it up knowing that he had bonded with Bodza.

Alas, despite living a fun, post-military life that according to Inside Edition involved chasing shadows, taking car rides and licking windows when excited, Bodza ultimately had to be put down after he was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, an incurable disease that affected his spinal cord.

Smith was the one who ultimately made the decision to euthanize Bodza. It was a difficult decision to make, but a necessary one, as a hero like Bodza did not deserve to continue suffering.

“All of us have that dog that is so special to us,” Smith said. “I got married with this dog, I got divorced with this dog.”

R.I.P. to you Bodza. You will be sorely missed by us all.

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H/T Fox News, The Chive