AN Army dog handler who was formerly based at St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham is to be awarded an MBE.
Sgt Kaye Wilson, 35, from Melton Mowbray and of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps searched for Improvised Explosive Devices with her dog Obama in a high risk area of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, earning herself the title of the “Army’s best dog handler”.
She and Obama, a two-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Shepherd Malinois, were serving with 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, based at St George’s Barracks at the time.
Her MBE citation read: “Corporal Wilson pushed herself and her dog to the limits of endurance, supporting the infantry and saving countless lives in the process.
“Always keeping a cool head and demonstrating unwavering bravery, Wilson operated at the very top of her game and maintained this unparalleled performance throughout the tour.
“Courageous but understated, she led from the front with a technical proficiency and selfless dedication.’’
Sgt Wilson, who was a corporal when she was nominated for the honour, paid tribute to her North Luffenham-based comrade Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, who is awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches after being shot dead in Helmand in March.
L/Cpl Tasker and his sniffer dog Theo, who died from a seizure on the same day, found 14 bombs and weapons caches in five months.
Sgt Wilson said: “We are all very close, so what happened affected everyone. Unfortunately jobs have to be done and we all had to carry on.’’
The dog handler was based in Nad-e-Ali and Gereshk in Helmand on her third tour of Afghanistan from September last year until March, which she admitted got “tasty’’ at times.
She said: “It was probably the most intense because I was working with the high-threat teams. However, I was probably more secure because they have a very good knowledge of what they’re doing.
“At first it’s a scary process, but you do relax into it.
“To say I was the best dog handler is quite a mad statement, there were many good handlers, there were probably others better than me.”
Obama was so successful in Afghanistan, he was kept there after Kaye finished her tour.
She said: “He has a new handler and is more use out there than back here. You do get attached but the job is the most important thing.”
Kaye is now training other operatives and dogs to perform with the same distinction she showed in Afghanistan.
Her husband Matthew, 36, a driver in the Army’s Royal Logistic Corps and they have three pet Labradors at home who are all former military working dogs.