Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Winston County Journal Article

Soldier with Winston County ties dies in Iraq
by Joseph McCain

There is one less brave American in the world and that diminishes us all.

Cpl. Dustin J. Lee, 20, of Quitman, Miss., died March 21 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Lee was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. announced the Department of Defense in a three-paragraph press release on Thursday, March 22.

Dustin Lee, son of Winston County native Jerome Lee, has been described as an All-American boy who loved his country and was proud to be a Marine.

"He always wanted to help other people," said Jerome Lee. "He loved his country and was proud to be a Marine."

He was All-American. He liked vanilla ice cream, loved his family, had a weakness for girls, enjoyed his job as a dog handler in the Marines and planned to follow in his father's footsteps and become a Mississippi Highway Patrol Officer according to his myspace page.

"He was good at everything he did," said his Uncle Brian Rich of Stonewall according to media reports. "From riding his motorcycle to baseball to everything. He was just an all around great guy to hang around with..."

Dustin's family had been expecting celebrations in the near future rather than sacrifice and tragedy. Dustin was scheduled to return home in May and would have celebrated his 21st birthday on April 7.

Dustin's aunt, Tina Lee, of Winston County described the close-knit family ties and the effect on her children.

"He (Dustin) was more like their brother than a first cousin," said Tina Lee describing her nephew's relationship to her children Toby and Brittney.

In dealing with their loss, the Lee family has requested to adopt two of the dogs Dustin had trained for the military including the dog that was wounded in the same attack that killed Dustin. The family also plans to set up a scholarship fund in Dustin's honor. Lee had joined the Marines after graduating from Quitman High School in 2004. He had chosen to be a dog handler during his service.

The Mississippi House of Representatives honored Dustin last week as they stopped for a moment of silence and a prayer.

"The family has received so many emails and comments of support," said Tina Lee.

Final arrangements for the funeral have not been set. Dustin's body is set to be returned to Quitman on Friday.

Dustin is survived by his mother and father Rachel and Jerome Lee; his brother and sister, Camryn, 12, and Madyson, 15; grandparents, Charles and Lavada Lee of Nanih Waiya, Jerry and Terry Rich of Stonewall; his uncle and aunt Greg and Tina Lee and their two children Brittney and Toby; and uncles Brian and Lee Rich of Stonewall.

As of Sunday, March 25, 2007, at least 3,240 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,607 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

No comments: