Sergeant Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog made famous in a book that shares his name, died Saturday at the age of 11, according to the book publishers.
“Rest in peace Rex and thank you for your service and sacrifice. Once a Marine, Always a Marine...Semper Fi,” the publishers wrote on Facebook.
During a 2006 patrol in Iraq, the Camp Pendleton, CA-based dog alerted his handler, Cpl. Megan Leavey of Valley Cottage, of a nearby bomb and both tried to run away, but it detonated—injuring the two.
Leavey left the Marine Corps in Dec. 2007. She tried to adopt the dog, but was unable to for years because he was kept on duty after recovering from his injuries. He was forced to retire this year because of facial paralysis. In March Leavey renewed her efforts to adopt him and received support form U.S. Seantor Charles Schumer and on online petition that received more than 20,000 signatures. Finally, in April, Leavey adopted him and took him to New York, where she continues to be a dog handler.
“You just have a special bond with your personal (military working dog),” she told military reporters in April. “We did everything together and he was at my side 24/7.”
Leavey said that during their deployments, Rex saved many people’s lives, including her own, mostly looking for IEDs. Throughout his career, Rex conducted more than 11,575 hours of military supports and searched more than 6,220 vehicles during searches in Iraq, the Marine Corps reported.
This year, a book, Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog, was released. The author, Mike Dowling, was one of Sergeant Rex’s handlers.
Related Blog: Sergeant Rex at Camp Pendleton