Gov. Scott orders flags half staff in honor of Dunedin soldier - WFLA News Channel 8

Gov. Scott orders flags at half staff in honor of fallen Dunedin soldier

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

On a colder than normal March day, with winds whipping across the runway, family members waited for the return of Army Specialist Zachary Shannon to Macdill Air Force Base.

At their side stood some of the highest ranking officers in the U.S. Military. Admiral William McRaven from U.S. Special Operations Command and General Karl Horst from U.S. Central Command. Congressman Bill Young also stood on the runway as an honor guard from Macdill officially greeted the flag draped casket of the young soldier.

21 year old Zachary Shannon lost is life with four other service members in a helicopter crash outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Monday his family touched his casket, before it was loaded into a hearse for a journey across the bay.

Leading the procession, a mounted motorcycle patrol from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Captain Chad Chronister says this is the sixteenth time since 2007 the Sheriff's Office has performed this duty. Captain Chronister says, " When you look back and you can see the family and see the emotions and see how overwhelmed with gratitude that they are , their son paid the ultimate price, made the ultimate sacrifice and now they can see the community come out and support them. I don't think the family knows what they're in for."

People lined Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa as the procession drove by.

Amy Phillips was among them, she says, " It's freedom. These people sacrifice their lives so that we can live in the United States of America."

The procession drove through downtown Tampa, then across the bay to Pinellas County and in front of Dunedin High School where Shannon was a student.

Hundreds more waited for him there.

Bagpipes played, young members of Dunedin's ROTC snapped to attention and young cub scouts gave Shannon the scout salute.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers says, " This is just a small way for all of us to kind of reach out to our men and women who have been coming back in the same way and it's our way to say thank you to all of them and at the same time embrace our families."

Wednesday, Pinellas and Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies escorted the family of fallen Army Specialist Zach Shannon from Curlew Hills Memory Gardens to the Dunedin Cemetery, where he was laid to rest. 

The procession began at 11:00 a.m. at the Curlew Hills Memory Gardens and traveled south on County Road 1 to the Dunedin Cemetery.  At the Dunedin Cemetery, both northbound lanes of Keene Road at Virginia Avenue were temporarily shut down for motorcade parking.  Those that wanted to show their support to the fallen soldier were able to stand along County Road 1 during the procession.

However, the family asked that the funeral ceremony at Dunedin Cemetery to remain private.

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