Hundreds of people In Michigan showed up to the memorial service, and official send off a brave military dog who committed three tours of Duty in Afghanistan, with the U.S. Marines.
Cena, a 10-year-old Labrador retriever stricken with terminal leukemia was euthanized at the USS LST 393, a museum ship in Muskegon, Michigan, before receiving full military honors, commemorating his service as a member of the United States Armed Forces.
Cena, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, was a bomb sniffing dog who worked to keep his platoon safe from improvised Explosive Devices (IED). He is estimated to have saved countless lives in a military career that spanned close to five years. Cena was paired with Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, who grew an intense, close bond with Cena after the two went on countless missions together.
After Cena retired from the military, DeYoung gained permission to adopt him. In his later life, Cena helped DeYoung cope with the debilitating effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a psychological disorder that he suffers from.
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena,” DeYoung said. “When I was 19 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 biggest pieces of my life.”
DeYoung said that during their deployment, he carried Cena on his back through rivers, and steep mountain climbs. He even shielded his body, when they were under heavy direct fire by the Taliban. Cena reciprocated with emotional support and comforted DeYoung when he lost 7 friends in three weeks, losses that still impact him to this day.
As part of the memorial service, DeYoung took Cena on one last ride aboard a topless jeep with the inscription, “Cancer Response Team” written across it. DeYoung continues,
“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. The support, all the love people are giving him, he can see it and he can feel it.”
The memorial was well attended by the U.S. Marine Corps League, Michigan State Police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, Muskegon City Police, Muskegon Fire Department. A 3 volley salute was given to Cena after the decorated Marine was humanely euthanized. Cena was buried in a dark blue military vest, he wore during his combat missions.
As his American flag draped coffin was paraded to the burial grounds, military chaplain Wesley Spyke addressed the crowd saying,
“Lord, it is with heavy hearts that we are sending another Marine to you today.”
Rest in heaven Cena. 🌈