'It’s almost as if he’s one of them:' Grunwald rests with soldiers
Among the thousands of service members buried at the Fort Richardson National Cemetery lies a young man who never got his chance to serve.
"He had an amazing life ahead of him and we had a lot of plans, and now all that’s been ripped from us,” Edie Grunwald said.
David Grunwald was a couple months shy of his 17th birthday when he was shot and killed on Nov. 13, 2016.
Yellow police tape still lines a path in the woods near Mile 7 off the Knik River Road. A large metal marker lies where investigators found David's body nearly three weeks later.
Grunwald’s parents, Edie and Ben, have spent the past two weeks in court facing Erick Almandinger, one of four people accused of their son’s murder.
"They had no right to take someone else’s life. They had no right to hurt someone like they did. Who are they to make those decisions?” Edie said.
Ben and Edie are retired from the Air Force and Air National Guard respectively.
Edie said David grew up around the military and was proud of his parents’ service.
“I suspect he may have gone ahead an enlisted just to get that experience. He was interested in the Army. Because of his dad and I both being Air, I think he was torn,” she said with a smile.
Their military benefits allowed them two plots on Fort Richardson National Cemetery, but they never planned on having to bury their son.
"It almost doesn’t even seem real, the whole process of seeing our son and knowing where he was going and he wasn’t going to be with us,” Edie said, describing the day of his funeral.
On the second day of Almandinger’s trial, Edie took the witness stand and talked about how the family’s plans have changed.
"We both have a grave site, so whoever dies next goes in with David,” she told the state prosecutors.
While the Grunwalds wait for justice for David, they’re comforted by their son’s final resting place.
“It’s almost as if he’s one of them, he’s protected. He’s part of that Army, that service,” Edie said.
Almandinger’s trial resumes Tuesday, May 29 at 8:30 a.m. KTVA's Facebook page will continue to carry a live stream.
Contact reporter Heather Hintze by email.
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