Born on October 13, 1925 in Lopez, PA, Francis Pastusic enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943, at the age of 17. He served in the Pacific Theatre of War, fighting the Japanese as part of the First Marine Division in such locales as the Palau Islands and Okinawa. Pastusic qualified as a specialist in combat and dog handling, and eventually rose to the rank of corporal before his discharge and enlistment in the reserves in September 1944. A 1944 article said of Pastusic:
December 16, 1944
“Marine War dog Rex and his handlers Corporal Francis Pastusic of Dushore and Private First Class Arthur LeaMond of Maplewood, NJ were commended by their commanding officer for their bravery during the recent Battle of Peleliu Island. They were cited as doing a magnificent job throughout the campaign. It was noted that ‘While they were on duty, not one Japanese soldier infiltrated the line.’”
His efforts did not go unrewarded; Corporal Pastusic received the Good Conduct Medal for his service. After the war, he settled in Mildred, PA and worked as a coal miner. He eventually married Alberta Pedro, who bore him two daughters, Tina and Patricia Pastusic.