Hundreds of people gathered in Michigan to say their final tearful goodbyes to a cancer-stricken dog who served three deployments in Afghanistan with the US Marines.
Cena, a 10-year-old black lab, was given a hero’s goodbye on Wednesday before being euthanized and carried away in a flag-draped casket at the USS LST 393, a museum ship in Muskegon.
Cena, who was recently diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, served as a Marine bomb-sniffer until his retirement in 2014. Cena’s celebration was organised by his owner, Jeff Young, who was paired with the dog during a military tour in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, and who adopted him in 2014. Cena was then trained to be DeYoung’s service dog to assist him with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
DeYoung added, “I’ve had Cena my entire adult life, who le.” “I had Cena when I was 19 and learning how to be responsible overseas.” And now I’m 27 and have to say goodbye to one of the most important parts of my life.”
DeYoung claimed to have carried Cena across rivers and thrown his body over him while under Taliban fire. He said that Cena kept DeYoung’s body warm on freezing desert evenings and consoled him after he lost seven buddies in three weeks.
As part of the celebration, DeYoung took his dog for one more ride in a topless Jeep painted with the words “Cancer Response Team.”
“It started off with my basically wanting to go to a dealership and wanting to borrow a Jeep for a day and really small to a community tribute or a community parade for him and he’s truly deserved it all,” said DeYoung. “The support, all the love people are giving him, he can see it and he can feel it.”
The US Marine Corps League, Michigan State Police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, Muskegon City Police, Muskegon Fire Department, and officers from various other departments, including a canine officer named Rex, attended the ceremony. Attendees delivered a last three-volley salute to Cena, who was dressed in a decorated blue Marine vest, with “Taps” playing in the backdrop.
“Lord, it is with heavy hearts that we are sending another Marine to you today,” chaplain Wesley Spyke said in prayer to the throng.
A GoFundMe campaign has been established up to collect money for Cena’s headstone.
“Any dog that served overseas deserves exactly what I’ve done for Cena, if not more,” he said.