Dustin Lee and Lex in Iraq
Military Base, Texas
|Died||March 25, 2012 (aged 13)
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||2002–2007|
|Awards||honorary Purple Heart|
|Other work||therapy dog|
Lex (1999 – March 25, 2012) was the first active duty, fully fit military working dog to be granted early retirement in order to be adopted. Working for his United States Marine Corps handler Corporal Dustin J. Lee in the Iraq War, he was wounded in an attack that killed Lee, and subsequently awarded an honorary Purple Heart.
Military working dog
Lee and Lex were stationed in the military police department at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, with Lex having deployed to Iraq previously with a different handler. Lee had adopted his previous canine, Doenja, after the dog was retired. They were detached to deploy in late November 2006 as an explosive detection and patrol team for 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, then part of Regimental Combat Team 6. On March 21, 2007, while at a Forward Operating Base in Iraq, they were hit by a 73 mm SPG-9 rocket attack. Lee was mortally wounded, while Lex sustained shrapnel wounds. Despite his own wounds, Lex refused to leave Lee and had to be dragged away for corpsmen and other medics to attempt treatment. After returning to the United States in April, he fully recovered from his wounds at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune after a twelve-week rehabilitation. He returned to MCLB Albany on July 6 in a full working capacity, although some shrapnel remained lodged in his back, which veterinarians did not remove to avoid causing permanent damage to his spine.
Lee’s parents, Jerome and Rachel Lee, appealed to the military to adopt Lex. An online petition was created by Lee's family, and the case gained national media attention. Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina's 3rd congressional district (which includes Camp Lejeune) assisted the Lee family with the release and adoption of Lex. Although the United States armed forces do not generally release military working dogs prior to retirement age due to certain requirements (due to 10 U.S.C. § 2583), there existed a provision to existing law that allows for early retirement of dogs under certain situations, created to allow a wounded Air Force dog handler to adopt her partner before retirement in 2005. The legal provision was enacted and Lex was released from active service to be adopted by the Lee family.
Headquarters Marine Corps made a formal request to the Air Force working dog program managers at Lackland Air Force Base in November, which was approved on December 6. Lex was released from five years of active service and turned over to the Lee family at a ceremony at MCLB Albany on December 21, 2007, under national media spotlight. He was 8 years old at the time. Afterward, Lex began to visit VA hospitals to comfort wounded veterans and assist in their recovery process. On February 16, 2008, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter #566 presented Lex with a commemorative Purple Heart at a ceremony held at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base. On September 24, 2008, the American Kennel Club announced that Lex won the seventh Law Enforcement AKC Award for Canine Excellence. On March 19, 2010, MCLB Albany's base dog kennel was named in honor of Lee, with Lex in attendance.
After his adoption, Lex struggled with mobility issues due to his injuries and approximately 50 pieces of shrapnel that remain in his body, despite treatment at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. On November 16, 2010, Lex began treatment at Georgetown Veterinary Hospital with a course of Vet-Stem stem cell regenerative therapy, with assistance from the Humane Society of the United States and Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield.
Lex died on March 25, 2012 as a result of cancer.
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CBS News interviews the Lee family and Marine officials at Lex's adoption ceremony
Jerome Lee and Lex meet with World War II veterans
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marine K9 Lex.|
- "Bomb-sniffing dog granted early retirement". Associated Press. MSNBC.com. December 13, 2007. Archived from the original on 7 Feb 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- "Family to Adopt Slain Marine's Dog". Associated Press. FOXNews.com. December 12, 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- Webb, Jason M. (March 25, 2010). "Base kennel dedicated to fallen Marine". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- "AKC Honors Outstanding Dogs with 2008 AKC Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE)". AKC News. American Kennel Club. September 24, 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- Petition to adopt Lex
- "Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina 3rd District Lobbys for Lex on the House Floor". C-SPAN. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- St. George, Donna (November 20, 2005). "Wounded Sergeant Fights for a 'Best Friend'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- Miles, Donna (February 1, 2006). "Military Heroes, Families Respond to State of Union Message". United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- "Proud Warrior TSgt Jamie Dana". Eagle Chapter. Air Force Security Police Association. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- "Lex to Receive Purple Heart". WTOk.com. January 29, 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- Nyczepir, Dave (November 19, 2010). "Georgetown Vet Aims to Heal War Wounds". The Georgetowner. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- "Marines let dog go to slain handlers' family". CNN. Associated Press. December 13, 2007. Archived from the original on 16 Jan 2008.
- Dornin, Rusty (December 21, 2007). "Iraq war dog to retire with fallen Marine's family". CNN.com. Retrieved 9 April 2010. Video by Mike Phelan: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/21/marine.dog/index.html#cnnSTCVideo