Zack Shannon wanted to go to Afghanistan.
"If it means a buddy can come home, I'm all for it," Zack once told his mother Kimberly Allison.
It was a comment that took her off guard, but also made her proud and secretly nervous for her youngest of four military sons Army Spc. Zack Shannon.
With her son's dog tag around her neck, Kim Allison remained strong and composed as she talked about her quick, witty, outgoing Zack, 21, on Saturday afternoon.
She learned he had died just a few days prior on March 11 when his helicopter went down during a night vision operation in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
From the time anyone in the family can remember, Zack wanted to work on UH-60 Blackhawks. Army stickers still adorn his former bedroom door inside their Fairway Estates home.
His older brother Robert Mirrione tried talking him into joining the Navy with him.
"Do they have Blackhawks?" he asked Robert.
He said no.
Zack wasn't interested.
Kim Allison, a nurse, described the cryptic phone call from her husband, Chip Allison, on the day she learned of Zack's death. She was on the 7 a.m. shift.
"We'll talk when you get home," Chip Allison told her.
As she pulled up to her driveway, she saw her third son Steve Shannon's truck, and a bad feeling crept into her gut.
She opened the front door and saw two men in uniform, and she knew.
"You want to make it go away," she said. "The image of those men in uniform will be stuck in my mind forever."
The family returned from meeting Zack's remains upon their arrival on U.S. soil at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware last week. His family returned to Dunedin late March 14, to get plans underway for his memorial services.
"You just don't think it's going to happen to you. I don't think it's sunk in quite yet," Kim Allison said.
Celebration of Life for Zack Shannon: Noon on Sunday, March 24, at VFW Post 2550. It is open to anyone in the community who would like to attend.
- 'Celebration of Life' Set for Dunedin Soldier Zack Shannon
- Dunedin Soldier Dies in Afghanistan
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