A brave and devoted military dog, who had served three tours in Afghanistan alongside the US Marines despite battling cancer, received a heartfelt and emotional farewell in Michigan before peacefully being laid to rest.
Cena, a 10-year-old black Labrador, was honored with a touching farewell ceremony just days after his owner, Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, had completed a special bucket list for his ailing companion. The event drew hundreds of people to Muskegon, where Cena, wearing a dignified blue Marine vest, would bid farewell at the USS LST 393 museum ship.
In a poignant moment, a tearful DeYoung carried Cena’s lifeless body wrapped in the US flag after the loyal dog had been gently put to rest.
Cena, who had been diagnosed with bone cancer just two weeks prior, had once been a skilled bomb-sniffing dog for the Marines, a role he carried out until his retirement in 2014.
DeYoung, who had been 27 years old, had been paired with Cena during his combat tours in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. After their shared service, DeYoung adopted Cena, and the faithful Labrador became his service dog, helping him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Reflecting on their profound connection, DeYoung shared, “My entire adult life, I’ve had Cena. When I was 19 and overseas, learning how to be responsible, I had Cena. And now I’m 27, and I’m having to say goodbye to one of the most significant pieces of my life.”
DeYoung recounted the extraordinary bond they had shared, recalling moments when he had carried Cena across rivers and shielded him from danger amid heavy Taliban fire. Through cold desert nights, Cena provided warmth, and in the face of heartbreaking losses of comrades within a short span, the loyal dog had offered solace and comfort.
In Cena’s final moments, surrounded by the love and respect of those who had gathered to honor his service and loyalty, the military dog found a peaceful and dignified farewell.