Springfield Police Division K-9 officer Rambo was remembered Thursday night as “Springfield’s dog” in a memorial service attended by about 300 area law enforcement officers, police dogs, handlers and civilians.
Uniformed officers had their badges crossed through with the traditional black “mourning band” in respect for their fellow officer. About 20 K-9 units from Ohio jurisdictions took part in a K-9 procession that honored their fallen comrade in the service at Littleton and Rue Funeral Home.
Springfield Police Chief Steve Moody choked up as he remembered Rambo’s unique qualities.
“Rambo was more than just a dog,” Moody said. “He was (Officer Mike Fredendall’s) partner, he was his friend, he was his protector. He was a member of the Springfield Police Division. Rambo would go into harm’s way so that we wouldn’t have to.”
Rambo’s passing on Jan. 31 from complications from cancer was marked by the traditional playing of Going Home and Amazing Grace on bagpipes, a slideshow set to music that recalled his career and life, a presentation of the U.S. Flag to Fredendall, an end of watch radio call and a K-9 officer procession.
Displayed along with his cremated remains were Rambo’s five awards from The Ohio Police and Fire Games, his collar and badge, which read “K-9, Rambo” and the U.S. flag in a wood and glass display case, among other remembrances from poems to silk-screened blankets and photos.
His cruiser, with a decal of his name on the rear window, was draped and its light bar covered with black fabric.
A procession of marked police cruisers arrived at the funeral home just after 6:30 p.m. from Springfield Police Division headquarters.
The slideshow brought tears and giggles as attendees remembered Rambo’s service and life.
Moody said when the initiative was brought to him in late 2004 or early 2005, he was hesitant about bringing a police dog into the organization.
“You see, I’m a child of the ’60s and still have that imprint of beautiful K-9s being used for intimidation in an ugly way in our nation’s history,” Moody said. “As I researched this idea and sought advice … I knew as an organization this was something we had to do for our community.”
Moody said the division initially thought Rambo would simply be a tool to find drugs when he joined the force in 2006 with Fredendall, his handler.
“What happened, in fact, was totally unexpected. We chose a handler that would just not find drugs, we found a handler that marketed a four-legged officer. They showed us as a team what was possible,” he said. “And Rambo became ‘Springfield’s Dog.’ Together, they showcased Rambo’s uniqueness — that same uniqueness in everyone whose vocation it is to serve.”
In addition to fighting crime, they served as ambassadors between police and the community, visiting schools, fundraising events and hospitals at the bedside of sick children, Moody said.
“This was an animal that could take and would take a bite out of crime quite literally, but also comfort a schoolroom full of children by his mere presence,” he said.
“Some of the things that made him unique are that he had no agenda, he had no hidden motives, he wasn’t planning anything. He simply loved to work,” he said.
“He was always happy to see everyone, even me,” Moody said, drawing giggles from the crowd. “Rambo knew nothing about rank. Of course if you had no treat for him, he would quickly move on to the next person.”
“And while there is one of us missing this evening, we will continue our mission of serving the community. We will keep Rambo’s legacy alive and we will step into the next chapter, as hard as that seems right now,” Moody said.