On March 29, 2013 the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Airport Operations Division and John Wayne Airport dedicated and renamed the John Wayne Airport Explosive Detection Team exercise yard in honor of the late Lt. Mike Mullen. The facility will now be known as the Mike Mullen K-9 Training Facility.
In June 2012 at a Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Supervisor John Moorlach proposed the naming of the facility to recognize Lt. Mullen for his effort to gain funding to improve and expand the facility used daily for exercise and training by the three K-9s and their handlers assigned to John Wayne Airport.
The K-9 Explosive Detection Team was deployed to John Wayne Airport in 2002 and is charged with locating and identifying dangerous materials that may present a threat to transportation systems. These K-9 teams can be used to search the terminal, luggage, aircraft and cargo, as needed. These K-9 teams also work with political officials and foreign dignitaries when they fly through John Wayne Airport. They continue to be a vital and valued component in John Wayne Airport’s enhanced security programs.
The Explosive Detection Team at John Wayne Airport is one of only two teams nationwide where the K-9 handlers are also certified bomb technicians.
On March 29, 2013 the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Airport Operations division along with John Wayne Airport held a dedication luncheon. Approximately 125 people attended, including 25 family members of Mullen. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens spoke of Mullen’s warm demeanor and unwavering commitment to both his family and the community.
Lieutenant Mike Mullen, 47, passed away in January 2012 after a courageous battle with cancer. His two sons Michael and Matthew assisted with unveiling the green and yellow sign proudly honoring their father.