In Muskegon, Michigan, it was impossible to find a dry eye in the crowd as hundreds of people gathered for a tear-filled final goodbye for a cancer stricken Marine canine hero who had bravely completed three tours in Afghanistan with the United States Marines.
On Wednesday, Cena, the ten-year-old black Labrador retriever with scatterings of gray on his muzzle, received a hero’s tribute before being humanely euthanized at the USS LST 393, a museum ship in Muskegon and carried to his resting place in an American flag draped casket.
According to AbcNews, Cena, who had recently been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, had been a bomb sniffer for the Marines until he retired in 2014.
In 2009, Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung had been paired with Cena while they were in Afghanistan; the two protected each other and built up an impenetrable bond.
In 2014, Young adopted the dog, who then became the veteran’s service dog to help him with his post traumatic stress disorder.
DeYoung described their relationship and how he carried Cena across rivers and had used his own body to cover the dog from enemy gunfire.
Cena would often cuddle up against DeYoung to keep him warm, and when the unthinkable happened, and the soldier lost seven of his friends in just three weeks, Cena stayed close to comfort his human’s broken heart and soul.
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena,” stated Young. “When I was 19 overseas learning how to be responsible, I had Cena. Now I’m 27 and I’m having to say goodbye to one of the biggest pieces of my life.”
At the ceremony, was the U.S. Marine Corps League, Michigan State Police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, Muskegon City Police, Muskegon Fire Department as well as officers from other departments including K9 Rex.
Cena, dressed in a decorated blue Marine vest was honored with a final three-volley salute with “Taps” playing in the background.
Rest in peace Cena. You will be missed.
(Photos via screenshots J. Bissell from Muskegon Chronicle and YouTube video)