WAYNESFIELD — Hundreds of people turned out and lined the roadways leading into Waynesfield to pay final tribute to a fallen soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
Sonny Zimmerman, of Waynesfield, died on July 16 in Mushaka, Afghanistan, from wounds he suffered when the vehicle he was in was struck by a rocket propelled grenade.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Campbell, Ky. The unit is better known as the Band of Brothers.
Zimmerman’s remains arrived at 9:20 a.m. Thursday at the Allen County Airport.
Planeside rites were conducted as the plane arrived at the airport. A military guard unloaded the casket and placed it into a vehicle from Armentrout Funeral Home for transport to its building in Waynesfield. The Ohio Patriot Guard and military personnel saluted Sonny as he was put into the vehicle for transport.
The motorcade proceeding the airport down Ohio 117 to Ohio 196 and through the villages of Westminster and Waynesfield.
Citizens thankful for Sonny’s service lined both sides of the roadway. A food processing plant in Westminster, Rudolph Foods, halted production so workers from the plant could be among those lining the roadways.
All along the path, people waved flags, hugged and shed tears because of Sonny’s sacrifice.
In the motorcade, Sonny was escorted by the Auglaize County, the Logan County, and the Allen County sheriff’s offices, the Russells Point, the Waynesfield and the Washington Township police department.
Fire departments in the motorcade included Wayne Township, Uniopolis, Westminster, Roundhead and Alger.
The highest concentration of citizens was in Sonny’s hometown, where community members have come together in the last week to honor one of their own.
People along the highway reflected on him, in a village where everybody pretty much knows each other.
“He was just a normal, ornery kid that every loved,” said Mark Butler, who sat outside along the route with his wife, Vickie.
Vickie Butler said the incident shows what kind of character Zimmerman had.
“He had a chance to come home,” Zimmerman said. “He was worried about his fellow soldiers. It speaks loud on what kind of man he was.”
Steve Hayes said Zimmerman was doing what he wanted to do.
“He grew up wanting to be a soldier,” Hayes said. “He enjoyed being a soldier. As a young man you could tell he was a leader.”