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"May the Lord greet you with open arms and a nice ear scratch" are DeYoung's words on his Facebook post (representational image). Pixabay
  • Michigan and the world bid a teary farewell to Marine service dog who served three years in Afghanistan
  • The 10-year-old Labrador was diagnosed with a pungent form of bone cancer, following which he was put down
  • The Ceremony was attended by officers of various ranks and cadres and the general public.

MICHIGAN, August 1, 2017 : “.. And now I am 27, and having to say goodbye to one of the biggest pieces of my life”, said an emotional Lance Corporal Jeff DeYoung, as hundreds of people gathered in Michigan to salute and bid a tearful final goodbye to a cancer-stricken service dog who served three-tours in Afghanistan with the US Marines.

Cena, the black Labrador was no less than a hero and received a well-deserved beautiful, military farewell before being euthanized at a museum ship on July 27.

10-year-old Cena was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer. Having been a bomb sniffer for the US Marines until his retirement in 2014, he then became a service dog for Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, his wartime partner.

Not only did the pair spend every second together for over six months in Afghanistan, they were also responsible for each other’s lives and wellness as they survived military strikes together and headed into Operation Moshtarak, the largest joint militarily operation yet in Afghanistan. Jeff remembered carrying him over his body to cross rivers, and shielding him during Talibani strikes while Cena kept his body warm during cold-dessert times.


The duo was more than war time partners, DeYoung called Cena his “brother”. Facebook

Following his retirement, DeYoung had adopted Cena who then helped him deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Over the past year and a half, this dog, this brother of mine, has sat with me through homelessness, through missed jobs, my PTSD strikes, and waking up in my bath tub crying,” Jeffery DeYoung had said at a Veterans Day ceremony at Muskegon Community College during November 2015.

An evidently emotional DeYoung had also posted on Facebook publicly about Cena’s final moments with him, whom he fondly called ‘Chicken’. The status had over 250 comments and 62 shares as on August 1, 2017.


In his post, DeYoung called Cena his “brother”. Facebook

To cherish their final days together, Lance Corporal Jeffrey DeYoung had prepared a bucket list for his “brother” Cena, at the top of which was a ride in a topless Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep was decorated and named ‘Cancer Response Team’ and was joined by multiple Jeep convoys from the lengths and breadths of the country in honor of Cena’s service.

Cena’s illness had made him immobile. Heavily medicated and in a lot of pain, he appeared for the ceremony in a homemade blue Marine vest and made his way to the ceremony in a wagon.

At the museum was a celebration of Cena’s life, and the ceremonial military farewell was also open to the general public.

Following a short, police-escorted convoy ride, Cena and Jeff DeYoung boarded the US LST 393 where he was euthanized to the sound of ‘Taps’, which is played at every army funeral.

DeYoung then tearfully carried his casket covered by an American flag.

The Ceremony was attended by the US Marine Corps League, Michigan State Police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, Muskegon City Police, Muskegon Fire Department and officers from several other departments including a canine officer Rex, reported Associated Press.

ALSO READ: The Reason Why Dog is Man’s Best Friend

A GoFundMe page had also been set up in mid-July by fellow Marine Jacobie Baumann for donations to help build a headstone for Cena which recorded more than 1,100 responses, pledging donation worth nearly $45,000.

The news deeply struck social media which has been since abuzz with people sharing messages and kind words for both, Cena and DeYoung.

“Any dog that served overseas deserves exactly what I’ve done with Cena, if not more”, DeYoung said, as reported by Associated Press.

-by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


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