Hundreds of people came to say goodbye to a bomb-sniffing dog who served three tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines.
Marine Corporal Jeff DeYoung carried his beloved black Labrador, Cena, at his hero’s farewell in Muskegon, Mich., Wednesday before the dog was euthanized on the USS LST 393, a museum ship, and carried away in a flag-draped coffin.
The 10-year-old bomb-sniffing dog, who served in Afghanistan with DeYoung before becoming his service dog, had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer.
Hundreds showed up to say goodbye, many of them veterans. They petted Cena, who was wearing a decorated blue Marine vest, as he was pulled along in a wagon.
DeYoung wanted Cena to feel the breeze one last time, so the best friends sat side-by-side in an open Jeep.
“He’s truly deserved it all,” DeYoung told WOOD-TV. “The support, all the love people are giving him, he can see it and he can feel it.”
When the ride was over, DeYoung boarded the museum ship, where Cena was put to sleep.
“Lord, it is with heavy hearts that we are sending another Marine to you today,” Chaplain Wesley Spyke said during a prayer.
DeYoung and Cena were first paired in 2009 in Afghanistan when Cena was just 9 months old and DeYoung was 19. They served in combat together for nine months.
When DeYoung returned home, Cena remained for another four years, but the Marine never gave up hope that they’d be reunited. In 2014, Cena retired and he became DeYoung’s service dog to help him cope with PTSD.
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena,” DeYoung said Wednesday. “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.”