A large crowd gathered in Michigan to bid a heartfelt farewell to an adored dog who bravely served alongside the US Marines during three deployments in Afghanistan. Cena, a black lab who had battled cancer, was honored with a moving ceremony filled with gratitude and sorrow. The solemn event took place at the USS LST 393, a historic museum ship docked in Muskegon. The devoted canine was laid to rest in a dignified manner, with a casket adorned with the American flag, symbolizing his heroic contributions.
Cena, a brave and loyal canine, received heartbreaking news when he was diagnosed with a severe form of bone cancer. Prior to his retirement in 2014, Cena served as a dedicated bomb-sniffer for the Marines. His owner, Jeff Young, had the privilege of teaming up with Cena during their military tour in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010. Filled with gratitude for their time together, Young decided to organize a special celebration to honor Cena’s contributions. In a heartwarming twist of fate, Young officially adopted Cena in 2014 and trained him to become his indispensable service dog, lending support for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
DeYoung expressed, “Cena has been with me since I entered adulthood, serving as a constant companion and friend.” He continued, “I got Cena when I was only 19, during my time overseas when I was still learning how to be accountable and mature.” Now, at 27, DeYoung finds himself facing the difficult task of bidding farewell to a cherished and indispensable part of his life.”
DeYoung recounted instances where he carried Cena through treacherous rivers and used his body as a shield during intense Taliban attacks. He shared that Cena provided warmth during bitterly cold nights in the desert and offered solace in the aftermath of losing seven comrades in just three weeks.
To mark the occasion, DeYoung decided to give his furry companion a memorable experience by going on a final spin in an open-roofed Jeep adorned with the words “Cancer Response Team.” Initially, his plan was simply to borrow a Jeep from a dealership for a day, but it quickly transformed into a heartwarming community tribute for his beloved pet. DeYoung expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support and love they received, emphasizing how much it meant to his dog, who could truly sense and appreciate the outpouring of affection.
The ceremony was graced by the presence of distinguished organizations such as 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. Among the attendees was Rex, a loyal canine officer. As the solemn event unfolded, Cena, adorned in a beautifully decorated blue Marine vest, was honored with a final three-volley salute. The poignant melody of “Taps” resonated in the background, adding to the reverent atmosphere. In a heartfelt prayer, Chaplain Wesley Spyke expressed the collective sorrow, bidding farewell to yet another brave Marine being sent to the Lord.
A crowdfunding initiative has been launched to raise funds for Cena’s memorial monument.
“I firmly believe that every canine who tirelessly served abroad deserves the same level of dedication and appreciation that I have shown for Cena, if not even greater,” he expressed.