Sergeant Dean Shaffer graduated from Pekin High School as a member of the JROTC.
He continued his career in the Army training in South Carolina and Virginia.
Dean was then stationed in Hawaii doing Blackhawk helicopter repair.
He was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and Afghanistan last year.
During a mission in April 19, 2012, the Blackhawk helicopter Dean was riding in crashed in bad weather, killing Dean and three other soldiers.
For his sacrifice, he was awarded a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and the Combat Aviation Badge.
His family and friends will celebrate his birthday this week, remembering him as a fun-loving guy who died doing what he loved.
To that, "Deano", as they called him, would likely say "word."