The Patriot Guard, veterans and others wait for the family of Zachery Shannon, who died in Afghanistan, to lead a procession into the VFW Post on Douglas Avenue Sunday afternoon.
DUNEDIN – Army Spc. Zachery L. Shannon, who died March 11 in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, loved his job, a friend said Sunday, March 24.
Miles Springer, speaking to a crowd at an informal celebration of his life at the VFW Post on Douglas Avenue, said “we all know that that Zach loved helicopters. We got pictures of him in the slideshow, around 4 or 5 years old sitting in the helicopter, with an ear-to-ear grin on his face. He was very proud to do what he did. He loved his job, and he loved to fly in those things. What a way to go – doing what you love. If you have to go, there’s no more honorable way to go than that.”
Friends of the family were asked to eat food and have a beer.
“Zach wouldn’t want it any other way. I know him pretty well, and he would want you to enjoy this day in his honor and his name,” Springer said.
Among the attendees was Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers.
“When you think about the importance of this day, when this community can put their arms around the family and say thank you, it doesn’t seem nearly enough to express what these men and women (in the military) who go to foreign lands do for us. It’s touching.”
He’s has come to know the family, he said, who are “strong people.”
Residents knew Shannon, 21, through ROTC and various functions, Eggers said.
“It’s a very solemn occasion, and for us as residents of Dunedin … he meant a lot to this community” Eggers said.
Shannon died in a helicopter crash. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division out of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga.
Four others died with Shannon. According to the Department of Defense, there were no reports of enemy activity in the area at the time the helicopter crashed. The incident is still under investigation.