Another year gone

Hello dear friends.

I know we have this conversation twice year for the last 3 years.... and I feel like it's inevitable, but I can't help it.

I want to honor him.

Last Christmas my mother took me to visit his grave again.

It was so pretty, the outpouring of love hasn't ceased, and I felt the need to take my camera.

Something in me needed to take the pictures for his mother Kim and for myself. So I did.

"Its the guts and its the glory, a hundred stripes a hundred stories

It's the pledge of Allegiance on the 4th of July

Its the handwritten letters from home,

its the sleepless nights alone

It's his newborn baby he left with his wife."

"Mr Red White and Blue

Lay down his life

Mr Red White and Blue

For these Stars and Stripes"

"From the fields of Indiana

to the swamps of Louisiana

To the golden coast of Californ'

Uncle Sam's the only family he's got

His purple heartbeat wont stop

and his 18th birthday was the day he was born"

"Mr Red White and Blue

Lay down his life

Mr Red White and Blue

For these Stars and Stripes

Mr Red White and Blue

Pay the ultimate price"

Those are partial lyrics of a song called "Mr. Red, White and Blue" by Coffey Anderson.

Zack was the youngest of four boys, one of many in his family to serve his country. He was always cheerful guy and that cheer would spread from him when he was around. He was always cracking jokes and just fun to be around. We met in NJROTC our Freshman year and spent the rest of our time at high school doing Drill Team and other related activities. He was a good kid. I was happy to know him.

After we graduated, Zack and I, like many of our friends, had enlisted in the US Military. We all went  our separate ways, and I hadn't really kept in contact with Zack. I knew he was in Afghanistan and we started talking again, he went about a year after I did. The news hit me like a ton of bricks the day I found out that he passed away.

When I woke up this morning, Zack's mother had shared a video that his company had made and I made the mistake of watching it right after I woke up. If you watch this vide -->  Bravo 4/3 Deployment <-- At 7:13 on the time line, he's the door gunner prepping his gun before they take off. The rest of the video shortly after that was a tribute to Zack and the other four service members that lost their lives in that crash. It's a great video.... I just needed some tissues.

I miss my friend. Every day. He was so young when he died, but the massive outpouring of love from our little town was and still is amazing. They renamed the VFW after him, of which my mother is now a member. There were signs out for him, and the day they brought his body home they drove through the little town, past the high school, where a lot of people were outside. There were firetrucks with flags, the NJROTC cadets that knew him, saluted him while wearing their uniforms, the pictures were beautiful. They then took him to the local cemetery and laid him to rest. The pictures above show just a little bit of the love that we all have for him.

Rest in peace Zack. You are loved and missed, but never forgotten.

SPC Zachary L. Shannon

28 October 1991 - 11 March 2013