Marine Lance Corporal Jeff DeYoung recently had to say goodbye to his closest comrade: his dog, Cena.
DeYoung served with the bomb detecting dog in Afghanistan where they saved each other’s lives every day as they patrolled for IEDs. He told FOX 17 West Michigan of one such incident inside the city of Marjah.
“We took machine gun fire from three separate places, and I laid on top of Cena and hooked his collar to my flak jacket and laid on him until the threat was neutralized," DeYoung explained to FOX 17.
After DeYoung retired in 2013, he began a new battle -- one against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They were reunited in 2014 when DeYoung was able to adopt him as his service dog. Far from the horrors of war, the two friends were enjoying life when tragedy struck. Cena was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, and there was nothing DeYoung could do to save him.
Last week, it was time to put Cena’s pain to an end. DeYoung organized a hero’s parade and one last drive in an open top Jeep. Several Jeeps and motorcycles from the community joined the procession, and a local business even created custom dress blues complete with ribbons and decorations for Cena to wear.
DeYoung told FOX 17, "Every Marine has to go out in a set of dress blues. 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."
Hundreds of veterans came to give belly scratches and say thank you before Cena was euthanized aboard the floating veterans museum USS LST 393 in Muskegon.
DeYoung organized a GoFundMe to raise money for a proper headstone for the hero dog. After the ceremony he wrote on the page, "Rest In Peace brother. I hope to meet you upstairs if I make it . Love you bud. Mans best friend."
Watch the video to see this hero’s final salute.