Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Sgt. Rex honored at Yankee Stadium

By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent As a Red Sox fan, I’ve never had anything nice to say about the Yankees — not even when Johnny Damon joined their ball club. But last week the New York baseball team finally did something worthy of celebration: On May 12, before taking the field to ...

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

By Rebecca Frankel

Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

As a Red Sox fan, I've never had anything nice to say about the Yankees -- not even when Johnny Damon joined their ball club. But last week the New York baseball team finally did something worthy of celebration: On May 12, before taking the field to play the Seattle Mariners, the team honored former handler Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey and her now retired working dog, Rex, in a pre-game ceremony at home plate.

By Rebecca Frankel

Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

As a Red Sox fan, I’ve never had anything nice to say about the Yankees — not even when Johnny Damon joined their ball club. But last week the New York baseball team finally did something worthy of celebration: On May 12, before taking the field to play the Seattle Mariners, the team honored former handler Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey and her now retired working dog, Rex, in a pre-game ceremony at home plate.

Cpl. Leavey and Sgt. Rex journey to Yankee Stadium started earlier this spring when Mindy Levine, the wife of the team’s president, read about the pair and their two tours together in Iraq, during which both dog and handler suffered serious injuries. (It was for her service with Rex that Leavey received the Purple Heart, which sadly was stolen while she and Rex were recuperating.) The Levines were so moved by the story that they took it upon themselves to reach out to Leavey, even paying for her trip to pick up Rex from his home base Camp Pemblton in California when Leavey’s petition to adopt her former partner was finally approved.

When Rex and Leavey trotted out to home plate on game day, they were presented with an autographed jersey and a Tiffany & Co. charm engraved with Rex’s name by Yankees players Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez. At the end of the tribute, “Marine Capt. Eric Tausch surprised Leavey with a Purple Heart — a replacement for [the one that had been] stolen.”

The crowd rose to its feet and gave Leavey and Rex a standing ovation.

We’ve been following MWD Rex’s career pretty closely — from the new book about his first tour in Iraq, to his recent adoption by Leavey — and though he’s become something of a national celebrity, Rex has been enjoying a more ordinary existence as a housedog with Leavey in Rockland Country, NY. “He’s just living the retired life,” [she] said of her robust companion. “Wake up, eat breakfast, lounge around the yard and play with your toys. He can do whatever he wants.”

Not that civilian life is putting Rex off his war-dog guard. When A-Rod jogged out to present Leavey with the Tiffany heart, the third baseman got a little too near Rex’s handler and the dog “jumped up in front of Leavey, causing A-Rod to jump back before reaching home plate.” Good eye, Rex.

Rebecca Frankel, on leave from her FP desk, is currently writing a book about military working dogs, to be published by Free Press.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

Soldiers of the P18 Gotland Regiment of the Swedish Army camouflage an armoured vehicle during a field exercise near Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland on May 17.
Soldiers of the P18 Gotland Regiment of the Swedish Army camouflage an armoured vehicle during a field exercise near Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland on May 17.

What Are Sweden and Finland Thinking?

European leaders have reassessed Russia’s intentions and are balancing against the threat that Putin poses to the territorial status quo. 

Ukrainian infantry take part in a training exercise with tanks near Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Ukraine, less than 50 miles from the front lines, on May 9.
Ukrainian infantry take part in a training exercise with tanks near Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Ukraine, less than 50 miles from the front lines, on May 9.

The Window To Expel Russia From Ukraine Is Now

Russia is digging in across the southeast.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken participate in a virtual summit with the leaders of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue countries at the White House in Washington on March 12.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken participate in a virtual summit with the leaders of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue countries at the White House in Washington on March 12.

Why China Is Paranoid About the Quad

Beijing has long lived with U.S. alliances in Asia, but a realigned India would change the game.

Members of the National Defence Training Association of Finland attend a training.
Members of the National Defence Training Association of Finland attend a training.

Finns Show Up for Conscription. Russians Dodge It.

Two seemingly similar systems produce very different militaries.