Dogs
Marine gives his beloved dog one final goodbye in touching ceremony
The send off he chose was perfect. ❤️
D.G. Sciortino
11.09.21

When it was time for military dog Cena to leave this world, he did so in a manner that was fit for a king.

The 10-year-old dog, who served three tours in Afghanistan, was given a send-off ceremony at the USS LST 933 Museum in Muskegon, Michigan attended by more than 100 people, 30 Jeeps, and 30 motorcycles with about 35 American flags flown in his honor.

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When Cena was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung wanted to make sure his send-off was special.

DeYoung was paired with the bomb-sniffing dog during Young’s 9-month stay in Afghanistan.

Their friendship remained strong when they were separated for four years after Cena returned to the U.S.

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When Cena returned, he served as DeYoung’s service dog helping the then 27-year-old retired Marine to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena. When I was 19 overseas learning how to be responsible, I had Cena,” DeYoung told NBC’s Nightly News.

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“And now I’m 27 and I’m having to say goodbye to one of the biggest pieces of my life,” “This dog saved my life. I trust him more than I trust most human beings.”

So, Cena’s goodbye ceremony had to be special.

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When DeYoung said that he wanted to treat Cena to one last ride in a roofless Jean Wranger, members of the Patriot Guard Riders response team refused to let him go alone.

About 30 other Jeeps and 30 motorcycles joined the police-escorted caravan.

The event was also attended by the U.S. Marine Corps League, Michigan State Police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, Muskegon City Police, Muskegon Fire Department, and officers from other departments including K-9 officer Rex.

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Cena was paraded through waving crowds in the Jeep.

DeYoung wore his dress blues while Cena had his own homemade dress blues as some spoke kind words.

Those who wanted to meet Cena were allowed to pet him as he lay in a blue cloth wagon near the Jeep.

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“Lord, it is with heavy hearts that we are sending another Marine to you today,” Chaplain Wesley Spyke of Muskegon County Veteran Affairs said during the ceremony, according to MLive.

After the ceremony, the family said their final goodbyes before boarding the ship where Taps was played as Cena was put to sleep.

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DeYoung said that during their time at war together, he carried Cena across rivers while Cena kept him warm on cold nights.

DeYoung even shielded Cena from Taliban gunfire. And when DeYoung lost seven of his friends to war within three weeks, it was Cena who was there to comfort him.

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While words can’t really describe how much DeYoung will miss Cena, he says it will mostly be the little things.

“The goofy look he gets on his face when you open a potato chip bag. Whenever I grab his vest off the peg and he gets up and he says, ‘Where we going today?’ Just him, it’s gonna be tough,” DeYoung told TODAY.

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By D.G. Sciortino
hi@sbly.com
D.G. is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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