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Updated: Monday, 26 Nov 2012, 6:09 PM EST
Published : Monday, 26 Nov 2012, 12:36 PM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - An Army specialist from the Grand Rapids area died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington from injuries he suffered in Afghanistan.
Zachary Shanafelt was injured in an accident in Afghanistan in 2011, according to his obituary.
Shanafelt was a 2006 graduate of Creston High School Shanafelt was a leader in the Creston Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), according to director of that program Col. Don Robinson.
"Zach was just a super kid," said Robinson.
Shanafelt didn't enlist immediately after graduation. Robinson said he worked as a a cook in a local restaurant for a couple of years. Shanafelt called his former teacher when he made the decision to join the Army.
The two occasionally talked by way of Facebook and emails.
"Good kid who could do about anything he put his head to," said Robinson. "I'm going to miss him. It's just a crying shame that a guy taken that young and with so much promise."
Robinson learned Monday morning of Shanafelt's death.
"This is one of those times you have to regret," said Shanafelt. "He was a great kid, and as a battalion commander, of course he was. He had to be. But he was a role model for the rest of the kids coming behind him.
Shanafelt's body will be returned to Grand Rapids Thursday.
Visitation will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m to 11a.m. Friday. The service will begin at 11 a.m.
The funeral services will include full military honors and are being handled through Pederson Funeral Home.
Shanfelt leaves behind wife Marina, 13-month-old son Daniel, parents Patrick and Gloria Shanafelt, and brothers Christopher and Silas Shanafelt.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or the memorial fund established for Shanafelts’s son at any Fifth Third Bank branch.
Wounded Warrior Project
PO Box 758517
Topeka , KS 66675
Members of the U.S. armed forces with known Michigan ties who have died in 2012 supporting military operations in Afghanistan:
-- Army Spc. Zachary Shanafelt, 24, of Grand Rapids died Nov. 21, 2012, at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington of injuries he sustained in a 2011 accident while serving as a combat medic in Afghanistan's Fariyab province.
-- Army Sgt. Robert J. Billings, 30, a 2001 graduate of Morley-Stanwood High School in Mecosta County, Mich., and a resident of Clarksville, Va., died Oct. 13 when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
-- Army Pfc. Shane W. Cantu, 20, of Corunna died Aug. 28 in Charkh of wounds suffered when he was hit by shrapnel. Cantu was assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Caserma Ederle, Vicenza, Italy.
-- Navy Petty Officer David J. Warsen, 27, of Kentwood was among seven Americans and four Afghans killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16. He was assigned to a West Coast-based naval Special warfare unit.
-- Army 1st Lt. Todd Lambka, 25, of Fraser died Aug. 1, in Paktika province from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated. Lambka was assigned to 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.
-- Army Spc. Kyle McClain, 25, of Macomb County's Shelby Township, died Aug. 1, in Salim Aka. McClain was assigned to 1433rd Engineer Company, 507th Engineer Battalion, 177th Military Police Brigade in Kalamazoo.
-- Marine Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Price, 27, of Holland, was killed July 29 while conducting combat operations in Badghis province Afghanistan.
-- Marine Sgt. Justin Hansen, 26, a 2003 graduate of Kingsley High School, died July 24 after being shot while sweeping a house in Afghanistan.
-- Army Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Leach, 29, of Ferndale died June 26 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The cause of death wasn't immediately announced. He was part of the 1/334th Regiment, 1st Brigade, 104th Training Division based in Fraser.
-- Marine Pfc. Steven P. Stevens II, 23, of Detroit died June 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
-- Army Sgt. Joseph Lilly, 25, of Flint died June 14 from injuries he sustained June 12 when he was hit by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan. He was a combat engineer serving with the 18th Engineer Company from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
-- Army Spc. Vilmar Galarza Hernandez, 21, of Salinas, Calif., died May 26 in in Kandahar province when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. His wife is from Muskegon, Mich. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Stryker
Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
-- Army Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark, 43, a former resident of Spencerport, N.Y, and Addison, Mich., died May 1 in Tarin Kowt. He was a nurse assigned to A Company, Troop Command at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. His wife was in Texas chatting with him via Skype when he collapsed.
-- Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City was killed Jan. 5 along with two other airmen when insurgents attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device in Helmand province. He was part of the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.
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