Soldier Reunited with Military Dog After 4 Years at War

It may have been 4 years since they were last together, but for this duo it feels like just yesterday.

By | Posted: June 17, 2014, 3 p.m. PST

Four years ago, Cpl. Jeff DeYoung’s family delighted in his return from Afghanistan. What they didn’t know was that another serviceman was due to come home to them.

Or service dog, rather.


Cena, a black Labrador Retriever, was at Cpl. DeYoung’s side through many tough spots while he was overseas. Oftentimes, the two found themselves sharing fighting holes, shelter at night, and even food and drink. The Marine and the dog he nicknamed "Chicken" were paired during training in Smithfield, Virginia, in 2009 and last saw each other in 2010, reports the Associated Press.

Cena and Young, Detroit Free Press

When asked to elaborate on his dog’s importance in battle, DeYoung is adamant that Cena, known for sniffing out IED-s, saved his life, saying to Click on Detroit, "I trust him more than I trust most human beings.”

Though DeYoung’s time in Afghanistan soon came to an end, Cena was deployed for another four years. Mission K-9 Rescue, an organization that reunites soldiers with their service dogs, made sure that the pair’s time apart would not be any longer than it had to be.

Upon their reunion in Detroit, it was clear that neither had forgotten the other.

Cena and Young, Detroit Free Press

"They’re their battle buddies,” Kristen Mauer, the pilot that brought Cena home, tells ClickonDetroit, "They protect each other out there and it’s just a beautiful sight when they recognize each other for that first moment, and once that happens, it’s just beautiful.”

Lindsey DeYoung, Cpl. Jeff’s wife, and soon-to-be mother of three, was teary-eyed at Cena’s return.

"I don’t know what we would do without that dog,” she tells ClickonDetroit.

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Bob   Thousand Oaks, California

7/23/2014 12:54:20 PM

Kristen Mauer is the President and Co-Founder of MissionK9Rescue.. she is not a pilot. She accompanied Cena on her trip home.

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