adidas f50 adizero leather life Megan Leavey talks about the Marines and Sgt
Marine Corps and gripping the leash of a tough as nails German shepherd named Sgt. Rex.
She was being honored by the team after winning the biggest fight of her civilian life a battle against military red tape that was preventing her from adopting the dog she had fallen in love with.
The beloved bomb sniffing K 9 was Leavey’s constant companion during her time in the Marines. They went on more than 100 missions in Iraq from 2003 to 2006, looking for explosives that could maim or kill their fellow Marines, before they were both nearly killed by an improvised explosive device near Ramadi.
She misses Sgt. Rex, who lived well but not long “a great eight months,” she says in suburban comfort in her Valley Cottage home before he died in December 2012.
Rex may be gone, but his memory and the story of how Leavey fought to be reunited with her Marine CorpsK 9 partner lives on in the Bleecker Street LD Entertainment movie “Megan Leavey,” which opens in theaters June 9.
Directed byGabriela Cowperthwaite, the drama stars Westchester native Kate Mara as Leavey. Mara played Zoe Barnes in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and Sue Storm in the 2015 movie “Fantastic Four.” Leavey has a quick cameo appearance in the film as a drill sergeant who gets in Mara’s face. “They did a good job, and I hope people enjoy it.”
Although the film embroiders the story for dramatic effect, Leavey says “I think the true message comes through the bond and partnership between me and Rex and how important it was.”
The memories are still raw for Leavey, who says that the first time she sawthe finished movie, she was “the one in the back of the theater, sobbing.”
The cast also includes Edie Falco and Bradley Whitfordas Leavey’s parents, Ellyn and Bill Leavey. Ramon Rodriguezand rapper Common are also in the cast.
“It’s an honor to play this person that I admire so much,” said Mara, who like Leavey was born in 1983. “I’ve always been fascinated by Marines and people who join the Marine Corps. They’re just so courageous to me, so I’ve always sort of dreamt of playing a Marine. That was a real joy for me.”
Mara calls Leavey’s story “so inspiring. I think it’s such a testament to never giving up on fighting for something you believe in and something you know is right. It doesn’t just pertain to this specific story. I think people can relate to that in all walks of life.”Photos: Megan Leavey and Kate MaraYankee Alex Rodriguez cautiously greets combat dog Sgt. Rex, while meeting Purple Heart recipient Megan Leavey on Sunday. Story, 3A. Seth Wenig/The Associated Press
New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, left, keeps his distance from combat dog Sgt. Rex while greeting former Marine Cpl. and Purple Heart recipient Megan Leavey, center, as Yankees team president Randy Levine, right, looks on during a ceremony before the start of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, May 13, 2012. Through two tours of duty in Iraq, Sgt. Rex was by Leavey’s side. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig/APNyack High School to Paris IslandLeavey’s march to the military began not long after she graduated in 2001 from Nyack High School, where she was a softball standout in high school, and entered the State University of New York at Cortland.
It was a heady time, she says. “My first month away from home, in college, 9/11 happens. That had a really big impact on my life. It threw off everything that I felt like I was supposed to be doing. And I just thought there’s a bigger picture in the world.”
She says she essentially flunked out in her freshman year and returned to Rockland to take a shot at being a commuter student at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill. The result was the same: “I was just not into it.”
Soshe ended up working next to the militaryrecruiting station in Nanuet.
“Finally, one day I was like, I’ll just go in,” she said.”I just made my mind up: If I’m going to do this, let me really just go all in. I hear the Marines is the hardest branch, so if I’m going in, I’m gonna go for it all the way.”
She made it through boot camp at Paris Island and moved on to Military Police school in Texas, where she joined the K 9 program and was paired with Sgt. Rex.
The Marine and dog quickly forged a bond that lasted long after the war zone blast of an IED that left Leavey with hearing loss, brain injury, and post traumatic stress disorder, and Sgt. Rex with a damaged shoulder and neurological ailments.
Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey with her dog, Rex, serving in Iraq. (Photo: Handout)
Leaving Sgt. RexAfter a year atCamp Pendleton in California in which she and Rex went through intense rehabilitation, Leavey was honorably discharged. She asked to take Rex with her, but was denied because the Marines still needed him.