Honoring one of our own

Published 9:29 am Friday, April 5, 2013

K9 service dogs came from all over to attend Trixie’s memorial service. (photo by Leah Justice)

K9 service dogs came from all over to attend Trixie’s memorial service. (photo by Leah Justice)

In our world there is a special kind of animal a service dog.

These soldiers, officers and search and rescue canines often put their lives on the line on our behalf.  They are taken for granted but never by those who have worked with them or who have benefited from their actions.

During 9-11 hundreds were used to help put some of the pieces together after the carnage. Many of those heroes are no longer with us but to those of us who pay attention they will forever remain in our hearts.

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On more than one occasion I have visited the memorial to our canine soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga. In the center is a monument depicting two sergeants, a soldier and his dog who have shared the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each time I gaze upon it I stand there in awe as tears of reverence and pride freely escape my eyes.

In 2007 on March 21 in Al Anbar, Iraq, a rocket exploded near Marine Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee and his canine partner, Lex. Lee was severely injured and Lex, who had suffered burns along with shrapnel lodged in his back and spine, climbed on his bleeding partner to protect him from further harm. A few days later two uniformed Marines arrived at the Lee family home in Quitman, Miss., to deliver the news of the Corporal’s death. After all was explained, Lee’s mother Rachel asked, “What about Lex?”

Through communication Dustin had made the family aware of his partner. The Marines seemed puzzled, “We’re not sure,” they said. “We know he’s alive.” She knew of the bond Lex had with Dustin and after she learned what Lex did on the battlefield, she considered it a blood bond. “Lex was the last to see my child,” Rachel explained, “I’d like to have him at the funeral with me.”