Marine Corps veteran, Corporal Jeff DeYoung, broke down in tears when he learned that Cena, his former military dog partner and companion was diagnosed with advanced bone cancer.
DeYoung and Cena served together for several months back in 2009 and protected their fellow Marines from IEDs in Afghanistan. Cena went on to serve two more tours before retiring from the military in 2014 and was then adopted by DeYoung. From that point forward, the two were inseparable companions.
The former combat engineer was 19 when he met Cena and says he’s had Cena his whole adult life. DeYoung said that he and Cena were perfectly matched from the moment they met.
“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.”
Upon learning that his faithful friend only had a few weeks to live, DeYoung knew he wanted to make sure his friend got a hero’s goodbye. “He’s not just a dog he is family and he is a Marine just the same.”
He arranged a fitting send-off for the military dog and hundreds of mourners joined him to honor Cena at a museum ship in Muskegon, Michigan. On his last night with Cena, DeYoung shared his thoughts on Facebook, writing:
“My last night with Cena.. words cannot convey what I’m feeling and thinking. I want to run away and not face what I must do. But he needs me to be strong and set him free. He has blessed my life with love and admiration, happiness and strength. Because of him I got to have a family. Because of him I was able to live. May God forgive me for what I do tomorrow. And may the Lord greet you with open arms and a nice ear scratch…
“Goodnight my friend, goodbye my brother. May you rest your head tonight knowing how loved you are and how dearly you will be missed.”
Cena was 10 years old and was dressed in a custom uniform and got many kisses and hugs from the public before DeYoung carried him to his final destination.
Watch more of Cena’s touching farewell in the video below.