The evening sky was thick with dark gray clouds. There were three volleys of rifle fire. Then silence. A bugler sounded the lonely notes to “Taps.”

As friends and fellow patriots saluted, Jeff DeYoung carried his best friend Cena, a hardened Marine combat veteran like his owner, past the crowd of well-wishers as they boarded a decommissioned Navy ship in Muskegon, Mich. It was there on Wednesday where the black lab, lame with bone cancer, was euthanized. He was 10.

This raw, emotional moment captures the indelible bond that forms between American troops and the animals who accompany them into battle. Trained to detect roadside bombs and other improvised explosives, war dogs have become vital to the military’s mission overseas, performing lifesaving duties under gravely dangerous conditions, and leaving lifelong impressions on the men and women with whom they serve.

DeYoung declined to comment, telling the The Washington Post on Thursday he needed time to grieve. In a Facebook post reflecting on their final night together, he called Cena “my brother” and said the dog “blessed my life with love and admiration, happiness and strength.” …Read the full story at The Washington Post

Source: The Washington Post