Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Family to celebrate life of Dunedin soldier killed in Afghanistan

Spc. Zack Shannon will be buried in Dunedin instead of at Arlington National Cemetery.

Spc. Zack Shannon will be buried in Dunedin instead of at Arlington National Cemetery.

DUNEDIN — Zack Shannon wasn't afraid to go to Afghanistan. He joined the Army knowing full well that he'd be deployed to a war zone.

He knew the risks of flying in helicopters, but he became a crew chief on a UH-60 Black Hawk chopper anyway.

"He never, ever once expressed fear. Never," his mother, Kim Allison, said Thursday. "The only thing he complained about over there was the cold."

Now Shannon's family is planning a memorial service for him this weekend after he was killed last week in a helicopter crash near Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was one of five U.S. soldiers who died in the unexplained crash.

Spc. Shannon, 21, comes from a military family, with his three older brothers, his stepfather and a grandfather all having served. He was deployed to Afghanistan in December for a nine-month tour of duty. He would have been sent there eventually, but he volunteered to go early.

He was a Dunedin native through and through, his family said. Born in Mease Dunedin Hospital, he attended Dunedin Elementary, Middle and High School like his brothers before him.

He played in Dunedin Little League, fished for snook off Dunedin's shoreline and frequented a barbershop on the city's Main Street.

In keeping with his wishes, he'll be buried at Dunedin Cemetery next week instead of Arlington National Cemetery.

Relatives gathered in his parents' living room Thursday to fondly share stories about him.

According to them, Shannon was a joker, a mama's boy, a serious sports fanatic, a crack marksman with a rifle, and a giver of thoughtful Christmas gifts.

His mother recalled talking with him on Skype after he got to Afghanistan.

"We got mortared the other day," he said matter-of-factly.

"What did you do?" she asked, alarmed.

"Slept through it," he answered.

His stepfather, Chip Allison, recalled the time Shannon insisted on wearing a Rocco Baldelli Tampa Bay Rays jersey to a Rays-Phillies game in Philadelphia, cheerfully ignoring hostile Phillies fans while his New Jersey grandfather practically pretended not to know him.

His brother Robert Mirrione recalled Shannon, a Florida Gators fan, keeping a Tim Tebow bobblehead doll in his Army footlocker against regulations. New recruits weren't allowed personal items except for religious ones.

"This is Tim Tebow. This is Jesus," Pvt. Shannon told his commanding officer.

"He made the guy laugh so hard, he let him keep it," Mirrione said.

The family plans an open house-style celebration of Shannon's life from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at VFW Post 2550 at 360 Douglas Ave. in Dunedin.

"People can come and go," Chip Allison said.

A large crowd is expected, although the post holds only about 300 people.

"We can handle it. It's going to be a little tight, but we'll manage," said VFW post commander Dutch Grubbs.

A private family funeral will be held Wednesday.

At Sunday's service, the family will sell fundraising wristbands for a scholarship that it's establishing in Shannon's name. The scholarship's recipient each year will be the Dunedin High ROTC's best sharpshooter.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

>>If you go

Services for Spc. Zack Shannon

What: An open house-style celebration of Spc. Zack Shannon's life

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: VFW Post 2550, 360 Douglas Ave., Dunedin

Donate: To contribute food or money to buy food, call post commander Dutch Grubbs at (727) 510-1305.

Motorcade: Shannon's body is to arrive by plane at MacDill Air Force Base at 10:30 a.m. Monday. Following that, an honor guard will drive him through Tampa, west on the Courtney Campbell Parkway, north on McMullen-Booth Road, west on State Road 580, north on Pinehurst Road in front of Dunedin High School, east on Michigan Boulevard and north on County Road 1 to Curlew Hills Memory Gardens. A crowd will gather outside the high school, which the motorcade is expected to pass between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Family to celebrate life of Dunedin soldier killed in Afghanistan 03/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  2. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  3. Florida inspired new group focused on improving how elections are run

    Blogs

    A new group run by two lawyers and veteran Democratic operatives specializing in voter protection efforts is launching a pilot program in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to work with local elections officials to improve the voting process. Access Democracy, run by …

    Access Democracy wants to improve voter participation and how elections are run
  4. Super Nintendo is coming back to stores, and there's even a new (old) game

    Blogs

    If the overwhelming success of last year's NES Classic is any indication, you may want to get your hands on Nintendo's newly-announced Super NES Classic as soon as it becomes available this fall.

    Super Nintendo plans to release the Super NES Classic Edition.
  5. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)

    Blogs

    Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

    Dave Andreychuk battles Calgary's Andrew Ference during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.