SPC Zachary A. Shanafelt, age 24 (06/23/1988 – 11/21/2012), passed away while bravely and honorably serving his country in the U.S. Army. He was a 2006 graduate of Creston High School where he attended four years of ROTC achieving the rank of LTC and becoming the Battalion Commander. SPC Shanafelt entered the service in the Army in 2009. He completed his basic training at Ft. Jackson and completed his Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Sam Houston, TX, becoming a certified Combat Medic. SPC Shanafelt served five months as a combat medic in Afghanistan with the Attack Battery 1-84th Field Artillery at Combat Outpost Qaisar in the Fariyab Province . He was injured in an accident which caused him to be sent to Walter Reed Medical Center where he was attached to the Wounded Warriors program. He passed away there the morning of November 21, 2012. Zachary was a loving and dedicated husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was married to his lovely wife, Marina for a year and a half, and they were blessed with a beautiful son, Daniel “Hamburger” Zachovich. The two of them had the wonderful and all too rare opportunity to spend 6 weeks traveling Europe together prior to the birth of Daniel, where they were able to cement their love in a way that most young couples never get. His son Daniel was truly the “apple of his father’s eye,” and his wife Marina was the “love of his life.” For him to have had that, we are all very humbly grateful. While in the Army as a Combat Medic, Zach not only excelled at his job, but he sincerely loved helping people and saving lives. He fell in love with the children of Afghanistan and was always requesting that things (not for himself) to be sent to where he was stationed so he could pass the gifts out to the children. His heart was as big as they come. All who knew him know that he had only one speed and direction which was straight forward and fast as hell. Whether it was playing the guitar, cooking, “dairy challenge”, dancing, working, or playing, he always brought an unmatched gusto to the game. He inspired those around him to either rise up or stay home, because there was no halfway for him. Zach was a total extrovert with the world’s greatest sense of humor. He faced everyday and every challenge with an unparalleled passion and a belief that hard work and a positive attitude would always conquer. He was a dreamer who always imagined the impossible then made those dreams a reality. How he always managed to do this and take all of us with him will remain one of life’s great mysteries. All of us knew his ideas were crazy and hair brained, but no one could say no. Perhaps because we knew that no matter the outcome, the ride would be worth it. Zachary, I think that I speak for everyone who knew you, “The ride was definitely worth it.” SPC Shanafelt is survived by his loving wife, Marina L. Shanafelt; his 13 month old son, Daniel Z. Shanafelt; his father a former US Marine Patrick A. Shanafelt; mother, Gloria Shanafelt; brothers, Christopher M. Shanafelt, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Silas E. Shanafelt active duty in the US Navy; grandparents, Ken and Anne Kelly; and extended family and friends. The Military Service under the auspices of the U.S. Army for SPC Zachary A. Shanafelt will be Friday at 11:00 a.m. at the Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe St., Rockford, MI, with Colonel Wil Hensen officiating. Relatives and friends may meet with the family at the funeral home on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and prior to the service on Friday. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 (download form @ woundedwarriorproject.org) or the memorial fund established for Zachary’s son at any Fifth Third Bank.
The Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford