"A part of Dustin is in Lex;
To have Lex at home is a part of having my son at home."
Marine Cpl. Dustin Lee’s Father
They had to lobby for months, and they had to enlist the aid of numerous people, including that of a Congressman, but this fallen soldier’s family has finally won their battle.
A military working dog wounded in Iraq during a rocket attack that killed its Marine handler was finally allowed to be adopted by the slain soldier’s family.
The dog’s name is Lex; he’s an 8-year-old German Shepherd; and it's the first time a working military dog has been granted retirement to live with a handler's family.
Marine Cpl. Dustin Lee was tragically killed, and Lex the Marine Dog was wounded, on March 21st in Iraq’s Anbar Province when they were hit by shrapnel from a 73mm rocket explosion.
Even though Lex was severely wounded, he diligently stayed by Cpl. Lee’s side, licking the fallen Marine’s wounds, and mourning the terrible loss of his human friend.
After 12 weeks of treatment for shrapnel wounds in the shoulder and back, Lex the Military Dog was once again declared fit for duty and returned to his permanent duty station at a Georgia military base.
Military officials initially told Cpl. Lee’s family that Lex was still ‘military property’ and that he had to complete another two years of service before he could be adopted by anyone.
But Cpl. Lee’s very determined family continued to lobby for months, and they have finally won their battle with the military to adopt their son’s best friend.
On hand at Lex’s recent adoption ceremony at the military base were the fallen 20-year old Marine's parents, his sister, Mattie, 16, and his brother, Cameron, 12.
"It's not going to bring back my brother, but it's something close to it," said Mattie as she played with Lex after the ceremony.
"A part of Dustin is in Lex," said Cpl. Lee’s father. "To have Lex at home is a part of having our son at home."
Cpl. Lee’s mother said she believes that her son's spirit will live on through Lex because of their extremely close bond, and because they were together during the final moments of her valiant son's life.
I truly believe that it will.
I also truly believe that even in war, we must be as compassionate as we possibly can, especially to our extremely valiant soldiers and to their families.