Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bill Zapfe laid to rest

DRY RIDGE --Five-year-old Cameron Zapfe leaned forward on his tiptoes and rested a white flower on top of the brown casket. The tears rolled from his cheeks as he gently kissed it and his daddy goodbye.

The sounds of horns echoed throughout Hill Crest Cemetery in Grant County yesterday as nearly 120 relatives and friends gathered to say goodbye to Sgt. 1st Class William Andrew Zapfe.

"He was just 100 percent husband and father," said his widow, Conietha Zapfe, wiping the tears from her eyes. "He was no more a soldier than any other soldier, but he was a great man."

Sgt. Zapfe, a native of Park Hills in Northern Kentucky, was killed June 19 when the tank he was riding in drove over an improvised explosive device in Muhammad al Ali, Iraq.

It was his third tour of duty in Iraq.

Members of the Zapfe family wore pins with their loved one's photo on it. Longtime friends and soldiers whose lives he had touched were there to pay their respects.

For some, Zapfe was a fatherly figure, a brother and a best friend.

"He was the glue that held that battalion together. I mean, you know, people die in the war, but not Sergeant Zapfe," said Staff Sgt. Charles Hall.

"It's one of these things where you never expect to see his name come across that list."

Before the service, Zapfe's wife, mother and daughter came out and hugged members of two motorcycle groups, the Patriot Guard Riders and Task Force Omega, as they stood in the flag line.

They were there to guide the family through the funeral, pay their respects and shield them from any potential protesters.

When it was time to leave Eckler-Hudson Funeral Home, veterans and family members led the way to the cemetery on motorcycles with American flags billowing in the wind.

Kevin Jackson, who was Zapfe's company commander from January 2004 to August 2005, said he was one of a kind.

"He was a very inspirational and motivational person, who a lot of people would lean on if they were having problems," Jackson said.

"I served with a lot of people in the Army and he was one of those guys that stand out."

Zapfe was buried next to his father, who was a state police officer at the Dry Ridge post.

Zapfe is also survived by a daughter, Anastasia, and a son, Spencer, of Hinesville, Ga.; his mother, Jeanne Zapfe of Castleberry, Fla.; two brothers, Joseph Zapfe Jr. of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Edward Zapfe of Old Town, Idaho; and grandparents Bill and Margaret Capen of Castleberry.

Zapfe looked tough but was a soft guy on the inside, said Barry Moore, 23, who served in his unit.

"He molded me into the soldier I am today," he said. "He took care of us, he put us under the wings. He had big shoulders.

"He's really a hero."

From the Herald Leader

Related Link:
Bill Zapfe remembered

Related Link:
William A. Zapfe dies 'of wounds sustained when an IED detonated near his vehicle'