Staff Sergeant Russ Beckley Jr. loved his dog, Rico.
More than 2,500 service dogs work in the United States military right now.
Their work is an integral part of combat missions, since they’re often responsible for sniffing out mortars, finding drugs, and protecting their human companions.
Beckley and Rico served together during two tours in Afghanistan, which included 240 missions and at least 30 firefights, according to WRAL. But he saw his combat canine’s health failing and made the difficult decision to put him down.
The Beckley family held a military-style funeral at their home in Saugatuck, Michigan.
With dozens watching, Beckley and his parents paid tribute to Rico and the life they shared together before laying him to rest.
Because the soldier is part of a four-generation military family, they decided to bury him with an American flag while observing many other military funeral traditions.
For more on Rico and Staff Sergeant Buckley Jr., click here.
Rest in peace, Rico. We salute you and thank you endlessly for your service.