Lee family, Lex return to MCLB - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lee family, Lex return to MCLB

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – A fallen MCLB Marine made the ultimate sacrifice, and now a building on base will forever bear his name.

With approval from the Marine Corps commandant, the K-9 kennel was renamed in memory of Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee.

Lee was killed in a rocket attack in Iraq and his working dog Lex was severely injured.

When Lex was retired, the corps allowed Lee's parents to adopt him.

It was three years ago Sunday, that Corporal Dustin Lee was killed, today everyone from President Carter to his parents talked about how Lee epitomized the Marine's motto 'Semper Fi,' or always faithful.

The bond between a working military dog and its handler is strong enough to stop a suspect in his tracks. That's how it was for Cpl. Dustin Lee and Lex as they searched for explosives in Iraq.

"Cpl. Lee and Lex helped find these killer bombs before they had a chance to do their dirty work," said USMC Commander Lt. Gen Richard F. Natonski

A rocket attack three years ago killed Lee and left Lex with severe shrapnel wounds. Now their story is part of base history. Lex and Lee's family were front and center as the kennel was named in Lee's memory, forever tying the family to MCLB Albany.

"I get on this base and I feel his arms wrap around me,"  said Dustin's mother, Rachel Lee. "This kennel means so much to me because I saw the pride my son had in being a Marine and being a K-9 handler.

A pride that would make Lee's chest swell and caused him to show out double time, the last time he was on this field. Cpl. Lee and Lex are an example for other marines.

"It's what makes the corps what it is today," said MCLB Albany Commanding Officer Col. Terry Williams. "It's the history, it's the bravery, it's the selfless devotion to country and Corps and so this is a fitting way to immortalize Cpl. Lee and help his family."

A family that lost one son, but in a way gained another.

"Lex has helped us to heal somewhat of course there's always that loss in the back of your mind," said Jerome Lee, Dustin's father.

For their son who had dreams of following in his father's footsteps on the Mississippi Highway Patrol but ultimately gave his life for our freedom.

The family told me Lex still has a lot of shrapnel in his body from the attack, in fact on a recent X-ray, the shrapnel looked like the night sky filled with stars.

During the ceremony, letters from President Jimmy Carter and Governor Sonny Perdue were read.

Three star General Richard Natonski, and former commanding general of Marine Corps Logistics Command Lt. General Willie Williams attended the ceremony.

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