Megan Leavey: Are Gunny Martin and Andrew Dean Inspired by Real Marine Officers?

Sergeant Andrew Dean and Gunny Martin are Megan Leavey’s senior and superior respectively when she joins the Marine Corps in Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s biographical drama film ‘Megan Leavey.’ With enough experience under his belt, Dean advises Megan and her colleagues about the challenges a soldier will face on the battlefield. Martin, on the other hand, guides her to Rex, who eventually becomes her “best friend.” Both of them affect the young corporal’s life and career significantly. Dean and Martin are based on real Marine officers who served the country while Megan was in the force. While one of them has chosen to remain private, the other one courageously sacrificed his life for his nation!

Sgt. Adam L. Cann Inspired Andrew Dean

In the film, Sgt. Andrew Dean is a dog handler who serves his country along with his canine companion Bruno. When Megan Leavey becomes a part of Camp Pendleton in California, Dean is a senior soldier in the same place. He gets killed in a suicide bomber attack after Megan returns from Iraq after her mission. In real life, like Dean, Sgt. Adam L. Cann was stationed in Camp Pendleton and he was the handler of Bruno. On January 5, 2006, Adam was in Ramadi, Iraq, as a K9 handler with Bruno. When the dog became agitated after encountering a suicide bomber, Adam approached the latter, who detonated the explosives attached to his vest.

To protect Bruno and his fellow soldiers, Adam threw himself into the bomber, sacrificing his life to save his dog and compatriots. He was killed instantly and Bruno was wounded. Adam was the first K9 handler who got killed in combat since the Vietnam War. “I’ll miss my boy, for the rest of my life. He was the best; always laughing, always responsible, striving to excel, always loving his family, serving his country,” Leigh Cann, Adam’s father, wrote after learning about the demise of his son. The deceased soldier was on his second tour of duty. He had previously served in Afghanistan as well.

Adam was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor for his brave sacrifice. He also became a posthumous recipient of the Purple Heart, the title Megan garnered after sustaining injuries in combat during her time in Ramadi as a dog handler. Adam was a native of Davie, Florida, and a graduate of South Plantation High School.

The Inspiration Behind Gunny Martin

Gunny Martin is seemingly based on Gunnery Sergeant Trotter, who was a part of Camp Pendleton during the tenure of Mike Dowling, the dog handler who looked after Rex before Megan. In ‘Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog,’ Dowling’s book about his experience with Rex, he remembered Trotter as the officer who “made sure that Rex and I were taken care of.” Dowling’s words about Trotter and his personality match Martin and his no-nonsense attitude and work ethic.

“Gunnery Sergeant Trotter is a squat Black marine the size and shape of Mike Tyson. He’d been a drill instructor prior to joining 2/2, and he’s genuine badass,” Dowling wrote about Trotter in his book. “Gunney Trotter is screaming orders to marines all around us and sorting out our defenses. He’s hard as nails, and he’s come into his own now that the shit’s going down. I may have had my differences with him, but right here and right now I can see what a great asset he is for a Marine Corps unit. Nothing beats seeing a professional do his job, and Gunney Trotter embodies true professionalism,” the author added.

In the film, Martin keeps a distance from the dogs under him to efficiently follow the protocols. When Megan fails to adopt Rex soon after their return from Iraq, he objectively asks her to accept the decision. Trotter, like Martin, also kept a distance from Rex. “The gunnery sergeant is the first guy we’ve met on the base who doesn’t seem to dig my dog. He shows no interest or curiosity in Rex and doesn’t even to want to pet him,” reads ‘Sergeant Rex.’

Read More: Is Matt Morales Based on Megan Leavey’s Ex-Boyfriend?