U.S. Marine bids final fond farewell to combat dog Cena

Ashes of Marine K-9 buried at Michigan War Dog Memorial


LYON TOWNSHIP, Mich – U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung was in Afghanistan when he lost seven friends in three weeks. Cena, a U.S.Marine bomb-sniffer dog, tried to comfort him. 

DeYoung was 19 years old when the U.S. Marines partnered him with the black lab. They trained and did two tours in 2009 and 2010. They saved many lives by detecting improvised explosive devices. 

"I remember we would get into firefights and having to cover myself on top of him so he wouldn't get harm," DeYoung said during an interview with ABC News in 2014. "It was all about him."

DeYoung adopted him that year after Cena served three tours in Afghanistan. He said the dog helped him to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. A few years later, the 10-year-old K-9 war veteran was suffering. He was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. 

"I want to run away and not face what I must do, but he needs me to be strong and set him free," DeYoung wrote on Facebook. "He has blessed my life with love and admiration, happiness and strength."

DeYoung took him in a Jeep convoy that he and his friends labeled as the "Cancer Response Team." Hundreds attended the ceremony July 26 in Muskegon, according to The Detroit News. 

"Lord, it is with heavy hearts that we are sending another Marine to you," chaplain Wesley Spyke said during the ceremony. 


Cena was euthanized at the USS LST 393, a museum ship. The U.S. Marine Corps League, Michigan State Police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, Muskegon City Police, Muskegon Fire Department and officers from several other departments were there to support them. 

On Saturday, DeYoung committed Cena's ashes to the Michigan War Dog Memorial in Oakland County's Lyon Township. State Sen. Mike Kowall, who was part of the ceremony, said Cena had "done a fabulous job" and now "is welcomed home."

About the Author: