Marine Corps veteran, Corporal Jeff DeYoung, broke down when he heard the news: his service dog and former partner in Afghanistan has terminal bone cancer. Together, DeYoung and the bomb detection dog named Cena “walked out in front of infantry units and patrolled the roadways and surrounding areas for IEDs.” Now, after veterinarians gave Cena just weeks to live, DeYoung has vowed to spend those final days honoring his faithful friend.
LCpl Jeff DeYoung was reunited with Cena, the bomb-sniffing labrador who served with him in Afghanistan! Check out the footage of their reunion here! –> http://bit.ly/1oa1o1K
The young combat engineer and the Black Lab were a perfect match right from the start.
“We were paired together based on a personality test,” DeYoung told Fox 17 West Michigan. “He was very quiet, I was very quiet. We were very mellow and kind of belonged together. They paired us up based on our personalities and then we deployed.”
The pair arrived in Afghanistan in 2009 when DeYoung was just 19-years-old and quickly came to depend on each other. Cena held DeYoung’s life in his paws each time they headed out on patrol. In return, the Corporal shielded the dog from gunfire with his own body during the Battle of Marjah.
Cena and DeYoung were eventually separated, but both continued their service. Cena carried out two more tours in Afghanistan with different handlers. DeYoung retired in 2013 and began a new war with PTSD.
“They teach you how to put a uniform on, but they don’t tell you how to take it off,” he said.
In 2014, the Marines retired Cena and DeYoung jumped at the chance to adopt him. His trusted partner and friend eventually became DeYoung’s official service dog, once again leading him into battle as he faced life after combat.
Marine Cpl. Jeff DeYoung parted from his former military dog partner, Cena, without saying goodbye in 2010. Now, thanks…
And then, last Sunday, Corporal DeYoung noticed that Cena was not bearing weight on one of his rear legs. A few days later he received the devastating diagnosis: advanced bone cancer. The young veteran crumbled at the news.
“To be frank, I hid under the desk in the vet’s office, I threw my phone against the wall and the vet had to leave the room until I could compose myself,” DeYoung said.
Jeff DeYoung and CWD Cena IDD. Hey…Alik….wake up!
Despite his heartbreak, DeYoung went to work planning a send-off befitting of a military hero. He told Fox 17:
“I want to go for a ride in a Jeep Wrangler with the top off, surrounded by green trees and my dog by me. Just one last good day.”
That wish has since come true. A friend of DeYoung’s posted to Facebook that “Jeff and Cena got the biggest jeep in the State of Michigan!!”
After not seeing Cena, in almost four years, former Marine Jeff DeYoung Jr., of Muskegon, Mich., is reunited and spends…
A tribute for Cena will take place this coming Wednesday July 26 at a Naval ship docked near their home. Local military, law enforcement officers and friends will join DeYoung in honoring the faithful pooch with a final salute before he is put to rest.
“I think a hand salute as he’s heading into the vet would be a tremendous sign of respect from the community,” DeYoung said.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help DeYoung fulfill his vision for Cena’s final send-off. The donations will go toward “a statue or beautiful headstone that he deserves” and his extensive veterinary bills.
Cena’s friends and fellow marines also hope to have him buried at the donation-based war dog memorial in Lyons, Michigan. Please consider making a contribution to help honor this canine war hero!
H/T & Featured Image via Fox 17 West Michigan