To understand the kind of love Zack Shannon's family feels for him, you need to look no further than the tattoo on his brother's arm.
Robert Mirrione is very proud of his youngest sibling.
"He gave his life for the country," he explained Sunday. "The least I could do was give my forearm."
The 21-year-old Army Specialist was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on March 11. He had achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a Blackhawk mechanic.
The 2010 Dunedin High School graduate was on a night vision operation near Kandahar when he died. On Sunday family, friends and others paid tribute during a memorial service at VFW Post 2550.
"We're here to celebrate Zack's life," said Shannon's father Chip Allison. "He was where he wanted to be [serving in the Army]."
His mother Kim Allison also spoke glowingly of her youngest boy at Sunday's service.
"I wouldn't want it to end this way but in a way I hear him saying 'Mom it's going to be OK," she said.
Zack's passion for the military was clear from a young age. His family says all he talked about growing up was being able to work on Blackhawk helicopters.
"If he could've seen the future and known the outcome he wouldn't' have changed it," Mirrione added.
Zack was the baby of the family, the youngest of four brothers, all of whom spent time in the various military branches. He and his brother Stephen both took part in the Jr. ROTC program while enrolled at Dunedin HS.
On Sunday, wristbands were sold in an effort to raise money for a scholarship in Zack's name.
"All the money that Stephen raises is going to be presented to top shooter Dunedin High School ROTC," Chip Allison said.
The family says the scholarship is a fitting way to keep a hometown hero touching lives long after he's gone.
Zachary's remains will arrive at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Monday morning.
From there, his body will receive a hero's escort to the final resting place at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens in Palm Harbor. It will pass along Bayshore Boulevard, and the public is encouraged to come out and pay tribute as it passes.
The procession is scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m.
Here is the entire route:
-Leave MacDill AFB Bayshore Gate
-North on Bayshore Boulevard
-East on Platt Street Bridge
-North on Florida Avenue (Left)
-East on Jackson (Right)
-North on Jefferson (Left)
-West on E. Polk St. (Left)
-North on Ashley St. (Right)
-Exit 60 West TIA/ Clearwater
-Take 60 West / Clearwater
-North on McMullen Booth Rd. (Right)
-West on 580 (Left)
-North on Pinehurst Rd. (Right)
-East on Michigan Blvd. (Right)
-North on CR-1 (Left)
-East on Curlew Rd. (Right)
-Curlew Hills Memory Gardens
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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