I posted this article on Giovanni’s World, where I once served as its honorary (i.e., unpaid) “West coast editor.” I’m re-posting it here because this needs to get to as many people as possible. We just received a comment from Lance Corporal Jeffrey De Young: Both he and Cena, “the shortest marine,” have been injured. Please pray for them! His comment follows the news article.
UPDATE: For Jeff and Cena pics, CLICK HERE.
May God Bless all our brave soldiers in harm’s way, human and canine,
Jay Price – Dec 1, 2009 – http://www.mcclatchydc.com/world/v-print/story/79818.html#
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HASSANABAD, AFGHANISTAN — He’s the most happy-go-lucky Marine in Golf Company, the shortest and the most likely to eat dead mice.
Patrols sometimes look like one big frolic for Cena, who likes his job. It is, after all, not much different from being walked. He lopes around, sniffing paths and piles of hay and corn shucks, wagging his tail and usually — but not always — obeying the command of his boyish handler, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey De Young, 19, of Holland, Mich.
De Young got five weeks of training before Cena and he deployed from Camp Lejeune, N.C., a few weeks ago. Cena had been in training since he was 7 weeks old.
On patrols, which can last two or three days, De Young carries not only his own food and water but also enough for Cena, as well as a small kit of veterinary supplies in case the valuable dog get sick or hurt.
Cena’s role is to save lives by finding bombs — he’s found one big one buried in a road and another hidden, ready for burying — but he’s also a morale booster. Whenever De Young lets him loose in camp, the dog ambles around looking for someone to scratch him behind his ears.
Even Cena needs his own morale boost. On patrols, he sometimes gets bored and loses interest in bomb hunting, as he did recently while he was waiting for Marines who were searching an abandoned compound for a weapons cache. De Young reached into a pouch on his waist and pulled out a hard rubber ball on a short rope and threw it across the courtyard. The dog chased it down. After two or three tosses, he was frolicsome again and ready to go back to work
The job is a serious one, and the Marines, who are sometimes prone to dark humor, have nicknamed the solidly built Cena “Pressure Plate,” after a type of detonator that’s used on weight-triggered bombs. They figure he’s just heavy enough to set one off.
De Young said he hoped that didn’t happen. “The way I have to look at it is, if he’s killed that might save five Marines, and that’s a good thing,” De Young said. “If something happened to him, though, it would be like losing a brother. “It would almost be like losing another Marine. And, really, he is a Marine.”
Here’s the comment left by LCpl De Young this morning, copy-edited:
Hey guys, me again. Just checking in. Cena recieved some stitches when I was hunting for IEDs. Me and him both were hurt, but it hurt me most to see my brother (Cena) needing help. Please pray for him and contact my mom through here if you want my address. A lot of my fellow Marines need olive drab shirts and socks. It’s a lot to ask for but any help would definitely be much appreciated.
And to my mother …. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I got hurt as well. It’s tough over here and I didn’t wanna worry you. I love you mom and I’ll be just fine.
P.S. Again, if you all will, please do me a favor and pray for these dogs and their handlers:
Galagher and Chatter
Easterling and Boomer
Greenburg and Emmie
Krist and Max
Cpl Evans and Trip
LCpl Evans and Allie
Davis and Miley
Ellis and Carlos
Turner and Joe
Allar and Copper
McCoy and Crusoe
McMeans and Chance
Every day these marines put their lives on the line just like me, and they are my brothers. When all else fails, we have each other.
~LCpl De Young
UPDATE: Please go HERE for LCpl De Young’s mailing address to send your care package! Thank you.