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Old 12-13-2007, 01:15 PM   #1
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Family to Adopt Slain Marine's Dog

2007-11-29 10:44:00
Family allowed to adopt dog that served in Iraq with Marine who was killed

Nikie Mayo
Sun Journal

When Cpl. Dustin Jerome Lee was assigned Lex, a military working dog from Camp Lejeune, the two became fast friends.

Lee had wanted to work with dogs since he was 5, and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Lee decided to join the military as his father had. So it made sense, his father says, that he became a handler of a combat dog. Lex and Lee were deployed together.

They were stationed in Iraq in March when a mortar attack killed Lee, a 20-year-old Marine from Mississippi, and wounded Lex, leaving shrapnel in his spine.

Lee’s family has been trying for months to adopt the 8-year-old German shepherd who, despite his injuries, is still classified as a working dog. The Lees got word Wednesday that they could bring Lex home, in part because of the efforts of a North Carolina congressman.

“Lex was my son’s partner; he was his best friend,” said Jerome Lee, a National Guard veteran who is with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. “He was next to him. He was the last one to see him alive.”

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, whose congressional district includes Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Marine Corps Air Station New River, began to work on behalf of the Lee family this month.

Jones heard about Lex from John Burnam, a friend of the congressman’s and founder of the National War Dogs Monument project in Washington.

“When I was presented with this story, it brought tears to my eyes,” Jones said this week.

After the injury, Lex was sent to Camp Lejeune for rehabilitation, the elder Lee said Wednesday. Now the dog is at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia and was intended to work for another two years.

Working dogs are part of the military police, trained to perform patrols, detect drugs and bombs. All of the dogs on the East Coast are home based at Camp Lejeune. Out west, dogs are stationed at Camp Pendleton in California.

“I talked to the daddy of this young man down in Mississippi and knew that his son loved the dog so much,” Jones said.

“Dustin gave his life for this country,” Jones said Wednesday. “Giving the dog to his family is a small, small gift to give to a family who gave a child in the fight for freedom.

Jones said he had not expected to go to bat for a family several states away.

“This is just one family in Mississippi,” he said. “But there are so many ‘one families’ … all over North Carolina who understand this. … They have sons or daughters who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“We already know what great fighters and defenders the Marines are,” Jones said Wednesday. “This reminds us that they are also people with great compassion.”

It may take a week to 10 days before Lex goes home. As “breathing property” of the Marines, he must be thoroughly examined and his records must be gathered before he can leave Georgia.

Jerome Lee, who spent part of his childhood in Fayetteville, said Wednesday that he and his wife are looking forward to having Lex in their care.

“We’re just waiting,” he said. “That dog meant so much to Dusty and he means a lot to us.”

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Old 12-13-2007, 04:14 PM   #2
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Wow thats awesome!! RIP brother.
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Old 12-15-2007, 02:21 PM   #3
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my first working k9 was from dodmwda, they are incredible. if they had good handlers, that is. not really a family dog if they weren't temperment tested, but thats badass that his fam took him. if he was an intediction dog he should have no problem fitting in. i can't believe the dod let civilians yake the dog, that was not part of the rules several years ago. cool story.
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:14 AM   #4
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:48 AM   #5
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