Yankees throw homecoming ceremony for Cpl. Leavey and Sgt. Rex

Retired Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey and Sgt. Rex, the Military Working Dog she fought to adopt for five long years, were honored by the New York Yankees in a pregame ceremony Sunday.

Alex Rodriguez welcomes Megan Leavey and Rex to the ball field (Photo credit: Seth Weingap)

Though the adoption was finalized in April, the ceremony at Yankee Stadium marked Leavey and Rex’s official homecoming celebration.

“He was all ready and waiting, and everybody was pretty much watching our first meeting together,” said Leavey of Rex. “He was wagging his tail, and during the ceremony he was looking up at me. It was just really cool.”

Yankee infielder Alex Rodriguez presented the pair with a custom engraved heart-shaped charm from Tiffany & Co. – the sparkly charm reads “Rex”. Outfielder Nick Swisher also came bearing a present, handing Leavey a Yankees jersey signed by the entire team.

Yankees president Randy Levine and his wife Mindy played an integral role in helping Leavey bring Rex back to New York, paying for the California trip that finally reunited the heroes.

“Here we were in first class with Rex sleeping at our feet,” explained Leavey. “He was so good. He slept the whole plane ride home.”

The Levines were more than glad to fit the bill for the flight. “It’s an honor to know Megan,” said Mindy Levine.

In a touching gesture, the Yankees partnered with the Wounded Warrior Foundation to replace Leavey’s Purple Heart medal. The medal was stolen while Leavey was in treatment at a rehabilitation facility for injuries she received during her time in Iraq. Both Cpl. Leavey and Sgt. Rex were gravely injured when a roadside bomb detonated near their location in 2006. Leavey credits Rex for saving her life during the explosion.

After finishing treatment for their respective wounds, Leavey and Rex had to go their separate ways. But Leavey vowed to fight for the chance to adopt her best friend.

“It was very, very hard for me to have to leave California not knowing if I’d ever see him again. And then just going through all those years not being together….[it] was kind of a waiting game,” Leavey explained of the adoption process. “Once I actually realized it was going to happen, I was just so happy. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

“It’s amazing,” Leavey added. “He’s home, he’s happy, and I get to take care of him for as long as he has left.”

Home for Sgt. Rex is now Rockland County, New York, where Leavey intends to pamper the 11-year-old German Shepherd for the remainder of his life.

“He’s got a lot of toys now, he can lay on his dog bed, patrol the yard for deer,” Leavey said of Rex.

When asked why Sgt. Rex holds a higher rank than she, Leavey smiled. “The dog does all the work,” she said, “we just hold the leash.”