A bomb-sniffing military dog that made national headlines when he was adopted by a fallen Marine's family has died of cancer.
In 2007, a rocket explosion in Iraq killed Cpl. Dustin Lee and injured his canine partner, Lex. The German shepherd, struck with shrapnel and whimpering from his own injuries, stayed by Lee's side on the battlefield. Medics had to pull Lex away from the Quitman, Miss., Marine, who died just a few weeks before his 21st birthday.
Lee and Lex had worked closely together, scouring roads for explosives and sleeping together at night. When Lee died, his family spent months lobbying for permission to adopt the dog.
Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina helped Jerome and Rachel Lee and Lex was given permission to retire two years early and join his new family. It was the first time the Marines granted such a request for someone other than a former handler. Lex was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries.
A Marines spokesman said Lex died March 25 in Starkville, where he had been undergoing treatment at the Mississippi State University veterinary school.
In the final years of his life, Lex lived in Quitman, a small town in east Mississippi. There, he provided a different kind of service: comfort.
State Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, sponsored a resolution to honor the dog. Snowden said the family often brought Lex to civic events.
"People loved the dog because of what he represented," Snowden said Friday after the House adopted the resolution.
Lee's memory has also been honored by the Marines. In 2010, a K-9 kennel at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga., was renamed the Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee Kennel.
The resolution is House Concurrent Resolution 116.