Official Marine Corps Press Release for the Retirement and Adoption of MWD Lex click to comment

Monday, October 15, 2007

Part of Him

Most of you probably know by now who CPl Dustin Jerome Lee is. For those of you who do not, please take the time to read a little more about him and view photos of him at

In a nutshell-
Dustin was a K9 War Dog Handler and MP who was killed in Iraq on March 21 2007. His K9 Lex survived but with injuries.
He received shrapnel wounds to his body, almost lost his tail, and to this day still has shrapnel lodged near his spine. The Veterinarians opted to leave this shrapnel in place as to not risk damage to Lex's spine.
Since Dustin's death the family has tried diligently to get Lex adopted to them so that they may care for him. Lex was of course the last (person) to see Dustin alive.
Even before the incident of the RPG that killed Dustin, Lex was destined to retire upon returing from this tour in Iraq. The family has waited patiently for the last remaining part of Dustin to arrive home...and they are still waiting.

Rachel with Lex

Today is Oct 15, 2007. Seven Months after the incident and no Lex. I know there is government bureaucracy and paperwork, but all that was done...finished and turned over the proper personnel. They feverishly worked around the clock, made phone calls, sent emails, contacted all the right people....Lex is still not home. They jumped through all the right hoops and answered all the right questions to be able to adobt Lex.
Instead the Marine Corps has decided that Lex did not need to retire and is instead located at the kennels at MCLB Albany, Georgia, back in training.

Can you imagine how heart broken and distraught this made the family once they found out they where not getting Lex for possibly 2 more years or until they where done with him? Rachel and Jerome can not have their son back, they gave him up to the Marine Corps and he was killed in the fight against terrorism during Operation Iraqi Freeedom. Why not retire Lex to Dustin's family? I think its the least the Marine Corp could offer. They do not want to replace Dustin, they just want the last piece of his life that is still alive. And by adopting Lex it will bring back a small part of Dustin and maybe a smile and laugh that they have not had in months.

They say that Lex is needed to train other K9s and handlers there at MCLB Albany. As far I know that shrapnel is still located in his back while he trains.. We can all understand that Lex may be an asset to the Kennel in training, and is a great, obedient companion, but how long until the damage that he sustained in the blast catches up with him. Lex desreves a nice home to retire to and a family that will love and take care of him.

Dustin's family are not strangers to handling K9s. Rachel, herself trained with Search and Rescue K9s. So its not like the family is unfamiliar in having to deal with trained K9s....Dustin recieved his love of dogs from somewhere right?

So I am asking everyone that knows of Dustin and Lex's story to send your comments to me. Write them here on the blog, email me, how ever you can....Give me your thoughts and opinions and we will do our best to get Lex to Dustin's parents.

Brian Rich,
Cpl Lee's Uncle and Former Marine.

Honor him


kelly said...

I am going to forward this info about Lex to as many people as I can. If there is any more that you send me, please do so. I will try to bring some attention to it along with this MWD Memorial Project.

My thoughts and prayers are always with all of you.

Kelly Hooker

MWD Memorial

Sandi said...

I myself work with the military working dogs. Since he is going to be used for training, has anyone stopped to see why? Are there no currently in the system that can train? there must be a reason for keeping him in. Seeing the slack they are going to be taking over Lee's death, there must be a BIG reason for keeping in a dog that was set to retire. Just seems like there is some larger reason for keeping him in.
Just a thought

kelly said...

I am currently a handler and have been for going on 6 years. I have done 4 tours to Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi/ Enduring Freedom where I worked for the US Marine Corps, Army and Air Force. I do not believe that we should just adopt and retire dogs that are capable of working, and assisting in our mission. However, if Lex was going to retire upon return from this tour then I feel serious consideration should be made. Congress allowed TSgt Jamie Dana to adopt a perfectly good and healthy 5 year old Working Dog after they were hit with and IED while in Iraq. The majority of Working Dogs retire between the ages of 10 to 14 years of age, so we lost a MWD that was capable of continuing in the program for several more years. My heart and prayers go out to TSgt Dana and her family; however, we just took a MWD out of the fight. If Lex was due to retire, then why can we not honor the life and heroism of Cpl Dustin Lee, and allow his family to receive the last remaining part of this fallen hero.

US Air Force MWD Handler

(posted for Alissa Jones - MWD Handler currently stationed in Korea)

Stacy said...

I have posted this up on my blog. Thanks for sharing this with us. Please keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

I think it's the least that can be done for Dustin's family. As the proud owner of two German Shepherds, I fully understand how much these animals mean not only to me, but my family as well. I am also well aware of the health problems they face as large breed animals. They are prone to various health issues , so I can only imagine what problems the shrapnel near Lex's spine is going to cause him in the coming years. If Dustin's family was told that they would be able to adopt Lex after Dustin's death, then I would hope the government would step up to the plate and honor their promise. As previously stated on this website, this is the last remaining piece of Dustin that is left. Lex has done his duty and lost his master in the process. Let him retire and be a pet to the family that loves him most. They have already had to endure every family's worst nightmare. Why make them continue to suffer?

God Bless the Lee family! May God heal your hearts a little each day.

Beth Hickman
(friend of Dustin's uncle, Brian Rich)

DevilDog_99 said...

Thank you all for your comments.
With the help of many people, we are trying our best to get Lex adopted.
Thank you Kelly Hooker and Mr. John Burnham for your help.


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