India: Axel is amongst the list of 42 ‘Mention-in-Despatches’ that recognises distinguished and meritorious service. Mention-in-Despatches lies above other appreciation awards such as the Chief of Army Staff Commendation Card and Vice Chief of Army Staff Commendation Card that the canines usually receive.
Thus, it will be the highest bravery award that an army dog has received in recent times for their involvement in a counter-insurgency operation.
The two-year-old German Shephard Army dog was serving in the 26 Army Dog Unit when he sacrificed himself in the line of duty. Reportedly, Axel had joined the unit in December last year only.
According to reports, Axel had tagged along with 29 Rashtriya Rifles in an anti-terror operation. After Axel’s canine compatriot Bajaj cleared and sanitised the building for entry, Axel was deployed on the spot to search for the terrorists.
Axel managed to clear the first room diligently but as soon as he entered the second, a coward terrorist fired indiscriminately at him. According to the official Army version, Axel made some movements for 15 seconds after being drilled with the bullets before falling down.
After the gunfight was over, army forces retrieved the canine’s body. Reports claimed that Axel suffered multiple wounds along with a fracture of the femur.
Apart from Axel, his canine buddy Bajaj has also been conferred the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) commendation.