Soldier reunited with service dog four years after service - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Soldier reunited with service dog four years after service

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DETROIT (NBC) - Sometimes, man's best friend becomes man's best defense.  

That's exactly the case for a Marine from Michigan.

He forged a special bond with his partner dog during combat in Afghanistan.

This week, the two were rejoined for the first time in years as the black lab was flown into Detroit’s Metro Airport.

This is much more than a story about a man and his he loved Labrador. This is about life and death. Corporal Jeff DeYoung of Muskegon survived deployments to Afghanistan while so many others did not.

Cena was always at the head of the pack sniffing out danger, specifically IEDs.

"This dog saved my life. I trust him more than most human beings,” he said.

His wife Lindsey knows Cena is what brought her marine home alive from war. Now they have two young daughters with a third on the way.

"I don't know what we'd do without the dog. Honestly, everything they've been through, the fire fight, the dog saved my husband's life,” she said.

Four years ago, corporal DeYoung got off a plane and never saw his dog again. But he never forgot their unbreakable bond while Cena battled more deployments.

"We slept together in fighting holes. We ate the same food, he drank out of my water system. I carried him across the rivers. We had a hail storm and a dust storm and I had to cover myself on top of him. I'm so glad he recognized me,” he said.

That's what makes this reunion so special. The anticipation caught the attention of strangers at metro airport. He heard just a small piece of their story. Kristen Mauer works for mission canine rescue. An organization that reunites soldiers with their service dogs. No matter how many times she flies in to make these emotional reunions possible, they never get old.

"They're their battle buddies. They protect each other out there and a beautiful sight when they recognize each other for that first moment and once that happens, it's just beautiful,” Mauer said.

After so many years apart, these two have a lot of catching up to do.

"He will always have an honored place in my family,” DeYoung said.
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