Hohenfels soldier took duty, hobbies seriously
Anyone who knew Pfc. Zachary Ryan Endsley knew of his passion for music and talent for whipping up chords on his old six-string guitar.
Though the young rifleman knew when and how to relax and enjoy life, he was also serious about his soldiering and proved to be an asset to the Army, fellow soldiers said Wednesday following a memorial service at Hohenfels, Germany.
Endsley, 21, posthumously promoted to corporal, died July 23 in the Arghendab District of Afghanistan when his unit came under attack, officials said. He was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, based in Hohenfels.
“He loved his music, he loved his guitar,” Sgt. Rickie Gander said during an interview recorded by Spc. Jerry Wilson with the Joint Multinational Training Command public affairs office. A copy of the recording was provided to Stars and Stripes. “Anyone who knew him, they knew he loved playing his guitar.”
“He was always smiling, always had a smile on his face,” Gander said of the young man from Spring, Texas. “He was well squared away. He had respect for his peers and his subordinates, and always looked out for his fellow soldiers. … He took his job very seriously, but he knew when it was time to be serious and when it was time to mess around.”
And Endsley had a knack for traveling lightly, showing up for his first duty station in Germany with very little baggage.
“We all arrived in Frankfurt about the same time. This is all of our first duty stations,” recalled Pfc. Tim Hanke, who grew up with Endsley in the same Texas town, but did not know him until the two met in the Army.
“And we get off the plane and run into Endsley. He’s getting this one bag off the baggage check. He’s got a full beard, and he grabs his cowboy hat and puts it on and that’s all he’s got. He showed for his first duty station with a cowboy hat, a guitar and one bag of clothes,” Hanke said.
Between 150 and 200 soldiers and civilians crowded the theater for Wednesday’s service, Wilson said.
“Cpl. Endsley, known by friends as ‘Creeper,’ was well thought of by his peers and showed a great desire to excel in his chosen field,” reads a portion of the memorial program. “In his spare time he was an avid video gamer and often could be counted on to entertain by displaying his talent with a guitar and as a singer.”
Friends reminisced of a Thanksgiving spent with Endsley in which they spent hours playing online video games. They spoke of his love for music. Though Endsley liked just about any genre, he identified mostly with rock and heavy metal.
And he was a keen artist who once created a logo for his unit while in basic training.
“He drew me a picture of a soldier on his knees, praying like on his M-16,” said Spc. Ryan Mountain. “I was supposed to get that as a tattoo. Probably will now.”