War hero dog laid to rest in South Lyon

- A war hero has been laid to rest in South Lyon. He was hurt in all three tours he served overseas.

This war hero is different than most, though -- he's a dog.

Cena served three tours overseas, sniffing out bombs in Afghanistan. Last month, he developed bone cancer and had to be put down. Saturday, hundreds came to the Michigan War Dog Memorial in South Lyon to say goodbye during a ceremony complete with full military honors.

"This is the ultimate closure that I could ever have," says Cpl. Jeff DeYoung, Cena's handler. "Cena's journey in my life is done; our work is not so I will continue doing so in his honor."

Cena was a black labrador who had no choice in going in the military.

"[Cena] did three combat deployments with three Marines; got blown up seven times on his second deployment, twice on his first deployment, and however many times we don't know on his third deployment," DeYoung says.

The two Marines met on assignment in Afghanistan in 2009 and were separated six months later. They were reunited back in Michigan in 2014 and went on to live a happy life while volunteering to help veterans with PTSD.

In July, at the age of 10, Cena developed bone cancer and had to be euthanized. DeYoung gave him a final salute and celebration of life during a ceremony in Muskegon.

"The freedom ceremony I had for Cena, that was one percent of what I ever wanted to show him how much I loved that dog," DeYoung says.

One month later, the community continues to celebrate the life of Cena and other War Dogs.

"People say, 'Oh, it's just a dog.' Well I'm sorry, that is so untrue. When you look out here today and you see all these vehicles, you see the 400 people lining up to pay their respects to a canine who is just not a dog, he is an American hero.

Eight German Shepherds gave Cena what's called the canine salute at the ceremony.

Cena's life was lived well and selflessly.

"No matter what, he will always be an engrained part of my life," DeYoung says.

Eighteen other service dogs are buried at the cemetery, which is located at Milford and 11 Mile Road. The public is always welcome to visit and pay their respects. 

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