Lex prepares for his journey home - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lex prepares for his journey home

December 20, 2007

Albany -- He has the playfulness of a dog, but the discipline and skill of a Marine.

"Our military working dogs are extensively trained in basic obedience, patrol work and detection," said Mike Reynolds, kennelmaster, Marine Corps Police Department.

On the grounds of the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Lex, an 8-year-old military working dog, doesn't miss a step on the obstacle course.

"They go through extensive training on that to make sure they're proficient to assist their handler and whatever unit they're supporting," said Reynolds.

But it was nearly 9 months ago to the day that this two-tour Iraq veteran faced a much different challenge. While on patrol in Iraq with his handler, 20-year-old Corporal Dustin Lee, the two were hit by a rocket propelled grenade. The blast killed Lee and left Lex with shrapnel wounds to his back and shoulder.

Reynolds said, "He was evaluated coming back from Iraq. He's recovered from his injuries. He is back to full status. As of today, he is a military working dog."

But tomorrow, that will change.

"Lex is very special because he is the first dog to actually be adopted by a military handler's family," said Lt. Caleb Eames, MCLB Albany.

Following weeks of extensive evaluation, the Department of Defense decided that Friday, Lex will become a member of a different family - the family of Corporal Dustin Lee.

"We're proud to have Lex as a member of our team both here and overseas deployed, but we're even happier to, in some way, help relieve the Lee family's loss with this adoption," said Eames.

But while soon to be a civilian, his service, and that of his former handler, will never be forgotten in the place he once called home.

Cpl. Dustin Lee, who was from Quitman, Mississippi, was assigned to Provost Office at the MCLB before deploying to Iraq in October 2006. His family will be on hand at the MCLB in Albany tomorrow for the adoption ceremony.

Below is the schedule for Lex's adoption ceremony held on the grounds of MCLB Albany:

Friday, December 21

8:30 a.m. - Lex adoption ceremony begins

9 a.m. - Ceremony concludes, Lee family is given time to greet VIPs and staff

Saturday, Dec. 22

7:30 a.m. - The Lee family and Lex meet the Patriot Guard Riders at the MCLB main gate

8 a.m. - The Lee family and Lex depart for home escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders.

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