Oakwood to honor soldier gone too soon

Oakwood to honor soldier gone too soon

OAKWOOD — When Zackary Partin told his mother that he joined the Army, she felt an initial wave of fear. But that feeling quickly turned into pride.

"He wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter, jump out of planes and become a Ranger — everything a mom didn't want to hear," Vicki Partin recalled her youngest of four children saying four years ago.

"I was proud of him for wanting to serve his country," the Danville woman continued. "I wasn't really surprised. His dad was in the Navy, and his Uncle Dave was a Marine, and he had other relatives on both sides who were in the military. It's something that ran in the family."

Residents are being asked to line Oakwood Street early Saturday afternoon to pay their final respects to Spc. Partin, who passed away Jan. 12 at Fort Hood, Texas. He was 25.

A celebration of life service will be held at noon at Sunset Funeral Home in Danville, and the funeral procession led by Oakwood police and other emergency service vehicles is expected to roll through the village en route to Oakwood Cemetery about 1 p.m.

"We're very big on supporting our veterans," said Julie Leverenz, the village of Oakwood's office manager, who put out the call on Facebook. Since then, her post has been shared more than 300 times.

"They're a very wonderful family," Leverenz said, adding she was a year ahead of the young soldier's father, Tim, in school and lived near his aunts and uncles. "We just have the deepest sympathy for them. We wanted to show them our support and how much respect and honor we have for Zack for serving in the military and serving our country."

Spc. Partin attended Oakwood schools and graduated from Oakwood High School in 2011. Principal Tim Lee recalled how he started out playing football, but then switched to cross country.

"He wasn't a star," said Lee, also the athletic director and cross country coach. "But he always liked to be part of the team."

"He liked being outside. He liked to fish, kayak. He did those things with his dad," Vicki Partin said, adding her son lived with his father following his parents' divorce when he was young.

After graduating from high school, Spc. Partin attended Danville Area Community College. He joined the Army in November 2012.

He served as a radio operator and had been assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Calvary Division since May, according to an Army release. He earned the Army Achievement Medal and Good Conduct Medal, among other awards.

"He made some good friends down there," his mother said. "They said he would always volunteer for anything and everything."

The release said that Spc. Partin was found unresponsive in his barracks room on the base and that the Criminal Investigation Command is investigating.

Vicki Partin said the last time she saw her son was when he came home for a couple weeks over the Christmas holiday. She was shocked when two Army officers showed up at her door at 10 p.m. Jan. 12 to tell her he had died.

"Everybody is heartbroken," she said softly. "He was so looking forward to getting out in May. He wanted to join the Naval Reserves, and he wanted to become a full-time firefighter."

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