Michael S Ferreira AspiazuApril 30, 1994 ~ July 5, 2017 (age 23)
Michael Ferreira Aspiazu, a 2012 graduate of Choctawhatchee High School, had checked into Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, the day before going missing in the Chattahoochee River.
A 23-year-old soldier from Fort Walton Beach whose body was found Wednesday in the Chattahoochee River after an apparent drowning is being remembered as a goofy and loving friend, son and brother.
Michael Ferreira Aspiazu, a 2012 graduate of Choctawhatchee High School and a 2016 graduate of the Niceville Police Academy, had just checked into Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, on Sunday night for duty.
Ferreira Aspiazu was reported missing Monday after a friend saw him enter the Chattahoochee River near the 13th Street Bridge in Columbus, Georgia, according to a news release from Fort Benning.
His body was recovered Wednesday. An investigation is underway.
Ferreira Aspiazu left behind family and friends in Fort Walton Beach who remembered him as outgoing, fun-loving and sweet.
“The first word that comes to mind is goofy,” his sister, 18-year-old Ruvi Maldonado, said of her brother. “He knew how to make people laugh. He was a very humble and thoughtful person, and he always put other people before himself. He always had a contagious smile.”
His mother, Viviana Aspiazu, said she always thought her son was “too sweet” to be in the military or law enforcement.
“He’s always so goofy and funny, and I would always laugh and say that he would probably be making jokes with people he arrested,” Aspiazu said in Spanish through a translator. “He was just the sweetest boy.”
Ferreira Aspiazu’s longtime friend, Zachary Ramirez, said he was “one of the best people you could ever hope to meet.”
“He was the most caring and supportive person you could ever have known,” Ramirez said. “He was always there for us. ... He was my brother to me, and we took care of each other.”
Ferreira Aspiazu’s family has not made funeral arrangements yet, but they said they are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community, particularly the Hispanic community in Fort Walton Beach.
“As with any loss, it’s really hard, but then again he was loved by everyone,” Maldonado said. “We have a great support system, whether it’s friends or strangers you wouldn’t expect ... especially the little Hispanic community. (They are) basically family, so they’ve been helping with everything, too.”
A funeral mass will be held at Saint Mary's Catholic Church, Friday, July 14, 2017 at 1:00 P.M.