Marine Sgt. Adam Leigh Cann Marine Sgt. Adam Leigh Cann was killed by in a suicide bombing as he guarded Iraqi civilians outside a recruitment center in Ar Ramadi.
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Marine Sgt. Adam Leigh Cann

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Marine Sgt. Adam Leigh Cann

Marine Sgt. Adam Leigh Cann

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Marine Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann would have turned 24 last week; but Cann, a military police officer and canine handler, was killed in a suicide bombing earlier this month in Ramadi, as he guarded civilians outside a recruitment center. Cann was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

For member station WLRN in Miami, Shannon Novak sent this remembrance.

SHANNON NOVAK (Reporter, WLRN):

As a child, Adam Cann would sit on his grandfather's lap and listen to Navy stories while in what the family calls, The War Room. Model airplanes hang from the ceiling, a Marine rug on the floor and walls are lined with war memorabilia. The Canns are a patriotic family. A family who believes the military will make you be all you can be.

Mr. LEIGH CANN (Father of Marine Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann): He decided to go ahead and join the Marines like his older brother.

NOVAK: Adam's father, Leigh Cann.

Mr. CANN: We knew the benefits of it and so forth. If he ever wanted to go to college, he'd have that benefit in the future. In general, it was a challenge that he wanted to go ahead and take and going on to the Marine Corp through Paris Island and so forth is really a big challenge and there's a lot of honor associated with that.

NOVAK: Adam was making good grades at South Plantation High School, outside of Fort Lauderdale, when he enlisted in 2000. Described by friends and fellow Marines as a courageous warrior, Sergeant Cann quickly rose in rank. He was an assistant supervisor of the K-9 units in Iraq and two months away from returning to Camp Pendleton, where he was supposed to be a chief trainer.

Tony Onori(ph) and Adam had been close friends since they were 13. Tony worried about Adam's desire to be in the hotspots, but knew how driven his friend was and believed he was well on his way to a strong military career.

Mr. TONY ONORI (Friend of Marine Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann): I was like, you know, you signed up to be a Marine, but to ask to be put in the middle of that stuff because he wanted to be where the action was. That is just the type of person Adam was. You know, he wanted to be out there protecting and serving his country.

NOVAK: He didn't grow up with animals, but like his brother, Sergeant Justin Cann, Adam chose to be a canine handler. His dogs were his partners. First, Cann toured Afghanistan with Bosco(ph), then two tours of Iraq with his second dog Bruno. He sported a tattoo of both the canine's serial numbers and called it Dogs of War. Again, Adam's father Leigh Cann.

L. CANN: Bruno was hit with some of the ball bearings that were contained within the bomb vest, but he was hit in the butt. Once that was over, the dog came back and laid upon my son's body, to go ahead and protect him farther.

NOVAK: Despite Sergeant Cann's drive to succeed in the dangerous line of work he excelled at, he liked simple things: country music, R&B, romancing his on-and-off again stateside girlfriend Michelle, a cold draft beer and a Miami Dolphin's game.

Ms. CAROL(ph) CANN (Stepmother of Marine Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann): He loved to party.

NOVAK: Adam's step mom, Carol Cann.

Ms. CANN: Beer? He loved beer. He loved Bombay Sapphire. We always kept a bottle here for him. He was just so much fun. I've said to Leigh, I'm going to miss the Adam fun. He brought life to the house and I'm going to miss that. I'm going to miss that light and life that he brought to the house.

NOVAK: Marine Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann was killed January 5th by a suicide bomb attack in Ramadi, Iraq. Adam is also survived by his mother, a younger brother and stepbrother.

For NPR News, I'm Shannon Novak, in Miami.

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