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

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Partner Dustin

My Partner Dustin
By John C. Burnam

I’m a U.S. Marine and the primary element of a two-member team trained to hunt and locate explosives. My partner and I trained as a team for many months honing our expertise to save American lives in the War on Terrorism in Iraq.

The date is March 21, 2007 and I was on the job in Fallujah, Iraq when an enemy fired Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) exploded in our midst. I was blasted to the ground. I’m Stunned. My head is ringing and my body feels numb. My eyes can’t quite focus on anything.

My partner is lying next to me severely wounded and bleeding. I move to him and touch him but he’s not responding. I feel sharp pains in my side and back. I’m bleeding but deal with it and concentrate on comforting my partner and protecting him from further harm.

Everything happened so fast that it caused disorientation and confusion. My senses pick up the lingering smell of burnt powder and smoke from the explosion. I hear lots of American voices and heavy boot-steps hurrying all around us. They reach our location and immediately attend to my partner. And then they carry him away. I’m separated from my partner for the first time. I’m not clear of thought and then I too am carried way but to a different hospital.

I’m in a building lying on a table with lights above and people talking. Still dazed and confused I hear a strange voice say my name, “Lex!” I gesture a slight reflex of acknowledgement. “Lex! You are going to be okay buddy! Just lay still. We are going to take care of your hurts, so stay calm okay, Lex?” My eyes dart around the room searching for your partner, but he’s not there and no one can interpret my thoughts.

I’m released from the hospital and well enough to travel so they transfer me from Iraq to a U.S. Marine Corp base in Albany, Georgia. I really miss my partner, Dusty. I know something has happened to him because he would never have left me alone for so long.

Yes, my name is Lex. I’m a seven year old German shepherd Military Working Dog. My master and loyal partner is Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee, U.S. Marine Corps canine handler from Mississippi. I’m well disciplined to my master’s commands and expertly trained to sniff out bombs and explosives. Where’s my master, Dusty? Where’s Dusty, my partner? No one can understand me but Dusty. Where’s Dusty?

Iraq was to be my last combat tour before retirement. Dusty talked to me all the time about going home and adopting me. I sure do miss my Dusty. He is the best friend I’ve ever had. I love that crazy Marine from Mississippi!

No one can measure the love and unconditional loyalty I have for Dusty. I’d sacrifice my own life for him and he knows it. I just wish I could have stopped that RPG or pushed Dusty away from that powerful blast. It all happened in a blink of an eye and I didn’t see it coming until it was too late. Now I sit alone in my kennel-run waiting for the day Dusty shows up.

The U.S. Marines are treating me very well. I get enough food and water and exercise each day. And the Veterinarian comes by to examine my wounds on a regular basis. I just can’t sleep well at night. I wake up to every little noise and I think about Dusty. Where can that Marine be?

The nights are long. The days turn into weeks. Still no Dusty! My wounds are healing and the hair is growing back. The pain still resides in my back but I can walk okay. I have a piece of shrapnel near my spine that the Veterinarians avoided removing for fear of further health complications. I’ve been fortunate to be declared physically unable to perform in a combat zone.

One of the dog handlers gave me a real good bath and grooming. I felt so refreshed because I was on my way to meet Dusty’s family. Maybe Dusty will be there waiting for me. When I arrived I sensed something was not quite right. Dusty wasn’t there and everyone was sad, but very happy to greet me. I then realized that I was attending Dusty’s funeral. Everyone showed up to pay their respects.

Dusty is a real American hero and he was buried with full military honors. I was so proud to have been his last best friend and partner. At one particular moment of total silence during the ceremony, I sniffed a slight scent in the air that was very familiar. It smelled like Dusty. I figured he sent me a signal that he knew I was there! I moaned a sigh of grief that he would only hear and understand.

I was greeted by the Lee family with joy in their hearts. It felt so warm and comfortable to be with my partner’s loving family. I wanted to stay but I was escorted away after the funeral and back to Albany, Georgia. What is going to happen to me now?

Wait a minute! I was due for retirement, right? Why did the military take me to see Dusty’s family and not leave me there? I belong with them in Mississippi not here in Georgia. There is something very wrong with this picture!

The Lee family adopting me would not be too much to ask considering they will never again see their son, grandson, brother, nephew and friend. Adopting me will keep a big part of Dusty’s life alive for them and for me. It will enable Dusty’s family to experience what he already knew about me. I loved and protected him everywhere we went and even on the battlefield in Iraq. It’s time the U.S. Marine Corps allowed Dustin’s family to adopt me. I’m not a young pup anymore, you know! I’m of retirement age and I want to spend the rest of my life with the Lee family. It’s where I now belong!

So please help the Lee family adopt me!

German Shepherd Dog
Military Working Dog
U.S. Marine Corps


Anonymous said...

Please retire the dog to the Lee family.

TAL said...

TO Colonel Christian N. Haliday, the Marine Corps and canine fanciers everywhere:

Project K-9 is an informational and education resource I founded after my German Shepherd, Ruby, died as a
result of lymphoma. Since the establishment of Project K-9 I have had the opportunity to speak up as an advocate for our canine companions who can not speak for themselves. Certainly LEX, the K-9 doing duty with the Marine Corps, who survived a RPG attack which killed his handler, Cpl. Dustin J. Lee, is a case which demands that everyone who loves and cherishes their canine companions speak up.

As founder of Project K-9 who comes from a military family, I would like to urge those in command to retire LEX. This valiant German Shepherd has done his duty for his country and served honorably and with distinction beside his K-9 handler. It is right and proper to retire LEX and permit his adoption by the Lee family of Quitman, Mississippi, whose son died while in service of God and Country!

Given the type of injury suffered by LEX and the fact that he has shrapnel that was not removed, this will likely contribute to an arthritic condition as the dog grows older. Any additional usage of this canine as a working dog could aggravate his condition and result in great pain and suffering as the dog ages. Therefore it is the humane and proper action to retire the dog NOW and not continue to use this dog.

It is very likely that any human soldier who suffered the type of injury suffered by LEX would be given the option to retire. You have to also consider the dog's age in dog years. In dog years LEX is past the age that any humans would be serving in the Marines. Therefore to retire LEX while he still has a few good years left is not only the right and proper action, it is the only decent action!

I urge everyone to support the immediate and honorable retirement of LEX and his adoption by the LEE family that his remainder years on this good earth may be served with the loving family of his canine companion, Marine Corporeal Dustin Lee.

Terry Lynch
Founder, Project K9

TAL said...

To help expedite the adoption of LEX by the Lee family I made some promotional banners that everyone can use. I also made a short site to condense the information down. These are posted at Support Adoption of Lex at

There is also a short LEX banner and PR at

This HTML code is easy to cut/paste and drop into any page, blog or other site to make it very easy for
everyone to help get the message out.

I made these helpful banners and links after speaking with Dustin's grandfather, Jerry Rich. I hope this will help in some small way to expedite the adoption of LEX by the Lee Family.

free web counters
flower gardening

all photos are ©one19designs and may not be used without permission of author of this site or the Lee family.