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From today's New York Daily News:
Hundreds gathered in Michigan to say goodbye to a beloved cancer-stricken service dog who did three tours in Afghanistan with the Marines.
Cena, a 10-year-old black lab, was euthanized later Wednesday and carried off in a flag-draped coffin.
"My whole adult life I've had Cena," Lance Cpl. Jeff 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 organized the celebration in Muskegon. The Marine was paired with the bomb-sniffing canine soldier in 2009 and 2010 in Afghanistan and adopted him in 2014.
Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung carries Cena aboard the LST 393, where he was euthanized. (JOEL BISSELL/AP)
Cena became DeYoung's service dog and helped him with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
During their tours, DeYoung said he threw his body over Cena to protect him while they were under heavy fire from the Taliban. Cena kept DeYoung's body warm during cold nights and comforted him when he lost seven friends in three weeks, the soldier said.
DeYoung took his dog on one last ride Wednesday in a topless Jeep that was named "Cancer Response Team."
"It started off with my basically wanting to go to a dealership and wanting to borrow a Jeep for a day and really small to a community tribute or a community parade for him and he's truly deserved it all," DeYoung said. "The support, all the love people are giving him, he can see it and he can feel it."
Cena was recently diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. He was euthanized at a museum ship in Muskegon following the tear-filled ceremony.
In a Facebook post early Wednesday, DeYoung wrote, "I want to run away and not face what I must do. But he needs me to be strong and set him free."
The U.S. Marine Corps League, the Michigan State Police, local law enforcement officials and firemen attended the ceremony. A canine officer named Rex also paid his respects.
"It's overwhelming," DeYoung said, according to Fox 8. "Of course, veterans always know you have to be early everywhere, but at the same time the amount of veterans and the amount of family that have showed up, it's remarkable to say the least."
Attendees gave the beloved dog a final three-volley salute with "Taps" playing in the background. Cena was wearing a decorated blue Marine vest.
"Every Marine has to go out in a set of dress blues," DeYoung said, according to Fox 8. "That's just the way we are. He's got his ribbons, he's got his decorations, he's dressed to the nines. He got a fresh grooming service today and we are ready to make peace with what we have to do."
A GoFundMe page was set up for donations to help build Cena a headstone.
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nationa ... -1.3365006