Family of fallen marine to adopt his war dog

Posted By elaine on February 2, 2011

A photo of Marine Pfc. Colton Rusk and his military dog, Eli, sits among a display in his Orange Grove home. Rusk was killed Dec. 5 in a firefight in Afghanistan and his family is adopting the dog.(Photo by Michael Zamora,Caller-Times)

A photo of Marine Pfc. Colton Rusk and his military dog, Eli, sits among a display in his Orange Grove home. Rusk was killed Dec. 5 in a firefight in Afghanistan and his family is adopting the dog.(Photo by Michael Zamora,Caller-Times)

The family of a fallen Texas Marine is being given the bomb-sniffing dog that rushed to their son’s side after he was shot in Afghanistan.

Military officials say Pfc. Colton Rusk died after being shot in December by Taliban fighters. The 20-year-old was a machine-gunner and the handler to Eli, a black Labrador trained to identify explosives in combat.

soldierruskThe Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Wednesday that Eli crawled on top of Rusk to protect him after being shot.  Kathy Rusk,  the Marine’s mother, said Eli will be given to the family later this week in an unofficial ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Military working dogs aren’t always discharged from service after the death of their handler. Military officials said Rusk’s commander had recommended retirement for Eli.

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