The next time you drive down Illinois Route 98, remember the sacrifice Sgt. Dean Russell Shaffer made for his country.
State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) and State Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) dedicated the route to the fallen soldier in a ceremony Friday. Shaffer was a 23-year-old Pekin High School graduate who served with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division. He died after the Black Hawk helicopter he was aboard crashed during a medivac mission in Afghanistan in 2012. Shaffer also served in Iraq.
“Soldiers like Sergeant Shaffer gave what Lincoln called their ‘last full measure of devotion’ to their country,” said Koehler. “The least we can do is show their families that we truly appreciate the ultimate sacrifice they have made while serving our country.”
"I was proud to have sponsored the House resolution to dedicate this stretch of highway. It is my hope that even small gestures such as these will make a large impact by keeping the memory of our fallen veterans alive, while also teaching and inspiring future generations," said Unes in a Facebook post.
Shaffer was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service.
Illinois Route 98 connects the Tazewell County communities of North Pekin, Groveland and Morton.