After serving three terms in Afghanistan, Cena the bomb-sniffing Lab and U.S. Marine got the hero’s goodbye that he deserved.
Losing a pet is hard for anyone, and we all want to give our best furry friends the memorial they deserve. With the help of his community, one soldier was able to do just that for his canine companion and partner in active military duty, Cena.
According to AP News, the 10-year-old black Labrador, who retired in 2014 after working as a bomb-sniffing K9 for the United States Marines, was given a fond and much-deserved farewell. Cena’s handler Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung learned that his fellow soldier and best friend was diagnosed with bone cancer and wanted to do something incredible to say goodbye to his K9 partner.
The couple was paired from 2009-2010 on a combat tour in Afghanistan, and DeYoung adopted Cena after the pup’s retirement. Together, they kept each other warm and safe while in active duty, and once home, Cena continued to provide emotional support as a service dog, assisting his partner through PTSD.
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena,” DeYoung said in an interview with AP News.
“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.”
Knowing that something special must be done for his friend, a friend of DeYoung took to GoFundMe in search of “someone in the Muskegon Michigan area with a removable top jeep to give chicken a few good last rides around before he dies,” as well as a commemorative headstone to honor his passing.
The campaign surpassed its original goal by over $16,000.
A Jeep was found, Cena was dressed in a blue Marine vest, and their closest friends, along with the U.S. Marine Corps League, Michigan State Police, the local county Sheriff’s Office, city police, fire department, and additional officers, including a K9 named Rex, boarded a nearby museum ship, and Cena was euthanized with all aboard.
Before his departure, Cena was given a final three-volley salute from all in attendance as Taps played.
DeYoung was said to be overwhelmed by the amount of support shown to him by his community and was delighted to see his hero and companion get the send-off he so deserved.
“He’s truly deserved it all,” he said.
“The support, all the love people are giving him, he can see it and he can feel it.”
Tell us what you think of this sweet send-off in the comments below.
Photos by Joel Bissell/Muskegon Chronicle via AP
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