Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Zach Grass laid to rest

Clutching a yellow rose, and hugging a folded flag, Patti Grass spent a couple minutes with her youngest son.

She trembled.

Cpl. Zachary A. Grass, 22, of Sugar Creek Township had come home — to rest.

And the roadside bomb that hit a military vehicle, taking his life, was in a distant land.

Zach died June 16 in Iraq.

There, in Welty Cemetery, his casket lay.

A seven-gun salute was followed by the traditional taps played on one trumpet.

Andrea Skirtich, whose family was very close with Zach and the Grass family, said he was “an amazing man,” then broke down and cried.

Zach’s legacy — as a son, a soldier, a friend and a Fairless Falcon — was honored during Monday’s muggy funeral service.

The service was in the high school gym.

Hundreds of relatives, friends and community members paid respects to Frank and Patti Grass’ youngest son. An older son, Ben, survives.

One of Zach’s closest friends, Tom Decker, described their friendship as “inseparable” and couldn’t wait for Zach to come home.

Another friend, Paul Amendola, said he met Zach in third grade, developing a lasting friendship that carried into the classrooms and onto the baseball field. They built artificial lungs out of a plastic pop bottle and gloves for science, hit baseballs and shot basketballs for the Fairless Falcons.

They last hung out on New Year’s Eve, playing cards and “goofy” party games. It is “surreal,” Amendola said of his friend’s death.

The Rev. Thomas Shank said, “Zach put his personal dreams aside, so others could dare to dream.”

Posthumously, the Army awarded Zach a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, a Combat Action badge and an Army commendation medal.

He also was promoted from Army specialist to corporal.

Zach was a member of the C-Battery, Second Battalion, 12th Field Artillery based in Fort Lewis, Wash.

Zach’s high school basketball number — 24 — was also retired for at least several years, said Fairless varsity boys’ head coach Matt Kramer.

The team also will wear a black arm band next year during games, in Zach’s memory.

“It’s not a game in there today,” Kramer said outside the gymnasium.

“It’s something far more real and it ought to put in perspective for all of our players that (basketball) is just a game.”

From the Canton Repository

Related Link:
Zach Grass remembered

Related Link:
Zachary A. Grass dies 'of wounds suffered when the vehicle he was in struck an IED'