Fallen Illinois Soldier To Be Honored With Memorial Highway

Apr 7, 2016

A section of Illinois Route 8 in East Peoria may be dedicated to a fallen Illinois soldier. State representatives Thursday moved to designate a roadway as the "Staff Sergeant Paul Smith Memorial Highway."

Smith died in Afghanistan in the summer of 2009.

Representative Mike Unes, a Republican from the area, says Smith had retired from the army in 2006 after serving his full term and serving tours in Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He could have returned fully to civilian life that year. But instead he made the very selfless decision to remain engaged in combat service by joining the Illinois National Guard with the 33rd infantry Brigade Combat team,"Unes said.

Smith then redeployed to Afghanistan in 2009 at age 43. He was killed by an IED explosion while on a volunteer mission.

Lawmakers held a moment of silence, then thanked and acknowledged Smith's family, who were watching from the House gallery.

"I mostly certainly and surely speak for all of us in expressing to Sgt. Smith's family how grateful we are for what he so bravely chose to do with his life. For all that he risked. And for what he ultimately gave up for us," Unes said. "I hope that this dedication will serve as a reminder to the East Peoria community ... that true heroes have indeed walked among us." In February, a couple dozen Illinois National Guard troops were deployed to Afghanistan.

In February, a couple dozen Illinois National Guard troops were deployed to Afghanistan.