Sunday, November 09, 2008


KNXV-TV in Phoenix, AZ

Military dog honored for staying by his handler's side.

A bomb-sniffing dog who once worked in Iraq is being honored during a reception at the Arizona State Veteran home.

The German Shepherd Marine, Lex, and his handler, Marine Corporal Dustin Lee, suffered shrapnel wounds in Karmah, Iraq in March 2007.

According to Lee's family, an IED exploded and launched shrapnel into Lee's body and his dog's body.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him," said Rachel Lee, Dustin Lee's mother.

According to Lee's family, Lex refused to leave Lee's side during the incident, as Lee waited for transportation to a treatment facility.

"Lex did not want to leave Dustin because that was his partner," said Jerome Lee, Dustin Lee's father. "He was going to stay with him no matter what."

"Lex laid on top (of Dustin)...and didn't want to be removed," recalled Rachel Lee.

"He actually had to be pulled way from Dustin," added Jerome Lee.

According to the Lee's parents, Lex attended Lee's funeral in Mississippi after receiving his own treatment at a veterinary hospital in North Carolina.

Lee's parents told ABC15 they adopted Lex after the incident. However, the process was not easy.

"When we lost Dustin, we knew we wanted a part of Lex to be with us," said Jerome Lee. "No matter what," he said.

Lee's parents said Lex was a working military dog, and had already served several years in the military. He had approximately two years left of duty.

Lee's parents said they believe Lex is the first military dog to be retired from service early.

"Lex is like a member of our family," said Jerome Lee. "I'm not going to say it fills a void, but we know that Dustin wanted Lex to be with us," he said.

Rachel Lee said looking at Lex helps her see her son's soul.

"It's like having the spirit within," she said.

Rachel Lee said dogs like Lex are helping military troops all over the world.

"They may be just a dog," she said, "but they're a soldier, and they're a partner with another mother's son to protect."

The reception honoring Lex happened Saturday at 2:00pm at the Arizona State Veteran Home.

Lex, who already has been honored with a commemorative purple heart, will also be an honorary grand marshal at the VA Veteran's Day Parade in Phoenix.

Iraq Veteran Honored by AZ Vets

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