Residents in Seminole County, Georgia are mourning the loss of one of their own. A 22-year-old soldier who grew up there was killed this weekend in Iraq. His mission in Iraq was to save lives as a medic, but within minutes his life was taken by a landmine.
Throughout the county, flags are flying at half-staff in honor of their fallen hero.
Zachary Alday was a 2002 graduate of Seminole County High School and was well-known in the community.
"He loved everybody. He loved his family. Every time you'd see him, he'd have this big grin on his face. He would give you this big bear hug. That's one of the things I'm gonna miss," said Zack's aunt, Susan Chambliss.
Zack was a medic with the U.S. Navy, but was on patrol with marines when tragedy struck. He was killed Friday when the Humvee he was riding in set off a landmine.
"I'm just glad he got to serve our country. I know he did it to the best of his ability; that's what he wanted to do. There's no doubt in my mind," said Joel Alday.
Zack's family was notified of his death by Saturday evening and it's still hard for them to believe. However, there is one feeling they all have in common.
Family members say since Zack's death, the war in Iraq and the politics involved have not become an issue. The main feeling they want to stress is to support the troops in Iraq who, like Zack, are defending our freedom with their lives.
Zack's family is planning a military funeral service for him at Spring Creek Baptist Church. Other arrangements will be made through Evans-Skipper Funeral Home in Donalsonville.
No final arrangements will be made until his body is returned to the United States.
Zack has a 14-month-old daughter, among other family members who he leaves behind.