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Retired military working dog dies

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | March 29, 2012

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Lex, a retired Marine Corps K-9, died Sunday at Mississippi State University Animal Health Center College of Veterinary Medicine in Starkville, Miss., from an aggressive form of cancer.

He served the Marine Corps from January 2002 to December 2007.

Lex received national attention when he became the first military working dog to be retired from active-duty in the Marine Corps and adopted by the family of a fallen Marine, Cpl. Dustin J. Lee.

He was adopted by his handler’s family, Jerome and Rachel Lee, during a nationally-televised ceremony aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Dec. 21, 2007.

Lex’s handler, Lee, 20, of Quitman, Miss., was fatally wounded during a 73 mm rocket attack in Iraq, March 21, 2007. Lex, who sustained shrapnel wounds during the incident, remained with his partner until other Marines arrived to provide medical attention. Following the incident, Lex underwent 12 weeks of intensive treatment at Camp Lejeune, N.C., before he was deemed fully recovered.

Several months following the incident, Lee’s parents, Jerome and Rachel - avid dog lovers - began appealing to the Marine Corps for the adoption of Lex, even though the dog was returned to active duty with the Marines.

The Lee family’s request was indeed a unique one, the first of its kind. After months of prayers, mailing tons of letters, and making hundreds of phone calls, the Lee family’s prayers were answered.

Since his adoption, Lex had been busy giving back to those who served, according to Rachel Lee.

“Lex, a certified therapy dog with Paws 4 Hearts, visited many wounded veterans in hospitals and veterans’ homes,” she said. “He was involved in many veteran meetings and dedications and brought more awareness to the War Dog Memorial.

“Lex demonstrated the important role of a military working dog and brought more understanding to the relationship between a military working dog and its handler,” she said. “Dustin and Lex’s mission of service will continue on in their honor.”

For Lee’s actions, MCLB Albany’s K-9 kennel was renamed the Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee Kennel during a ceremony held here, March 19, 2010.


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