Those that have served their country deserve a sendoff befitting a hero before heading to their final resting place, but that doesn’t always happen.
Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung was determined to make sure it did for his pal.
Young’s 10-year-old black lab, Cena, is an amazing service dog who served three tours in Afghanistan with the US Marines.
Cena was stricken with terminal bone cancer, and Young knew what he had to do.
The Chicago Tribune has the details on this touching story.
“My whole adult life I’ve had Cena,” DeYoung said. “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.”
DeYoung said he has carried Cena across rivers and thrown his body over him while under heavy fire from the Taliban. He said Cena kept DeYoung’s body warm during cold desert nights, and comforted him when he lost seven friends in three weeks.
Initially, DeYoung set out to have a small community service for Cena. He would end up being so overwhelmed with the support he received that it evolved into a full-fledged ceremony.
Cena received a hero’s farewell before being euthanized at the USS LST 393, a museum ship in Muskegon. He would be carried off in a flag-draped coffin.
“Lord, it is with heavy hearts that we are sending another Marine to you today,” said chaplain Wesley Spyke as he addressed the crowd in prayer.
A GoFundMe page was set up for donations to help build a headstone for Cena.
“Any dog that served overseas deserves exactly what I’ve done for Cena, if not more,” DeYoung said.
The stirring photos from the ceremony have really struck a chord, as they drive the point home about the amazing contributions that service animals make to members of our military.
Hats off to DeYoung for making this ceremony happen, and kudos to all of those that pitched in to give Cena the sendoff he deserved.
Source: Chicago Tribune