They might have walked on four legs, but they were Airmen nonetheless.
Military Working Dogs Arek, Allen, Liska and Bandy were all officially retired from duty June 29 afternoon at a special ceremony at Hill Air Force Base's Memorial Park.
A memorial was also held for a military dog named Marco, who recently died.
All of the dogs were members of the 75th Security Forces Squadron's MWD Group at Hill.
The group trains and deploys military working dogs to assist military operations in all areas, from sniffing out improvised explosive devices to finding illegal drugs.
Tech. Sgt. Matt Wilson, a trainer with the MWD group, said the ceremony was held because all four dogs retired at the same time and another former member of the group had recently died.
"This is the first ceremony we've had of this magnitude," he said. "It's a unique situation with the whole timing of everything, so we thought this was fitting."
The five dogs honored Friday all served several tours of duty in places like Iraq and Afghanistan -- and even in El Paso, Texas, as members of the border patrol.
Maj. Timothy McCarty, commander of the 75th SFS, said the dogs played a direct role in saving countless lives and finding thousands of pounds of illegal drugs.
"Because of what they've done, we think it's necessary to recognize them as the heroes they are," he said.
The most common breed for MWDs are the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois.
The dogs that operate in military roles, whether Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, are all trained at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, the only United States facility that currently trains dogs for military use.
The Department of Defense retires more than 400 military working dogs each year.
All MWDs in use today are paired with an individual, called the dog's handler, following their training.
A handler usually won't stay with one dog for the length of either's career, but the two will typically work together for at least a year, and sometimes longer.
Wilson said when the time to part comes, it's hard on both the dog and the handler.
"It's heart-wrenching," he said. "We train together, we deploy together, and we rely on these dogs to keep us safe.
"They truly are man's best friend."