Flags, people line streets in honor as fallen soldier returns

Army Specialist Zachary Shanafelt laid to rest Friday

The streets of Rockford were closed off and lined with American flags and crowds of residents who stood in honor of Army Specialist Zachary Shanafelt, 24, who was injured in Afghanastan in 2011 and died November 21 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.

Shanafelt’s body was returned to West Michigan from Washington Thursday when his body arrived at the Gerald Ford International Airport Thursday at 3:10 p.m. and was escorted to Rockford with a full military procession from the Michigan Honor Guard. The soldier leaves behind a wife and 13-month old son. The funeral was held Friday, November 30. Shanafelt was injured while serving as a medic in Afghanastan with the A Battery, 1-84 Field Artillery, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He often asked family and friends to send him toys while serving, and took joy in handing them out to children while he was serving overseas.

Parents, children and staff from Valley View Elementary were at Pederson Funeral Home waving American flags as the casket left the funeral home. Military honors were provided by the Michigan Army National Guard.


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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.