Highway memorial for KIA soldier unveiled

Staff Sgt. Ian Newland and Sgt. Bailey Fielder, who served with Pfc. Ryan Hill, pull back a blanket covering a highway sign slated for installation along Interstate 5. 

Two men who served with Pfc. Ryan J. Hill honored the fallen soldier by unveiling a highway sign that will mark his sacrifice in the Iraq War. 

Sgt. Bailey Fielder and Staff Sgt. Ian Newland were among about 50 attendees at a dedication and unveiling ceremony in Ryan J. Hill Park in Keizer Station Saturday, June 22. 

The sign will be placed between mile markers 261 and 262 in Interstate 5.

A table of items honoring Hill’s sacrifice. 

“ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) worked with us to push it out so it doesn’t get lost in all the other signs,” said Shawna Fenison, Hill’s mother. “My ask is that as you pass by one of these highway signs pause for a moment and whisper, ‘Thank you.’”

Hill was driving a Humvee on Jan. 20, 2007, when an improvised explosive device detonated (IED) near the vehicle. He was serving his first tour in Iraq when he was killed at age 20. The vehicle’s gunner was also critically injured. Hill was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge. He was the only Keizer resident to be killed while serving in the country’s recent foreign conflicts. 

Earlier in the Oregon Legislative session, Rep. Bill Post co-sponsored a resolution with Rep. Julie Fahey of West Eugene/Junction City to honor Hill with a highway memorial sign. Fenison now lives in Junction City. 

Post and Mayor Cathy Clark delivered brief speeches before turning the microphone over to Fenison. 

Fenison called on Post to bring the bill forward to the floor for a vote. 

“I was doing everything I could not to look at Shawna because what she had given me to read was written by Ryan to her,” he said. 

Fenison presented both Post and Clark with plaques engraved with a quote from her son: “A true champion is one who wants to make a difference, never gives up, works hard and never gives up their dream.”

Clark planned to put the piece in the Keizer City Council chambers at the Keizer Civic Center. 

Shawna Fenison, Pfc. Ryan Hill’s mother, presents Mayor Cathy Clark with a token of appreciation.

“It speaks to the spirit of who Keizer is and this city is made up of people like this who are out here every day trying to live up to the same dream,” Clark said. “This will remind us every day that we can never ever take for granted the freedom that we enjoy in this moment and make sure that it is something we protect, defend and pass on.”

Fenison encouraged all those in attendance to take inspiration from her son. 

“Have a compassionate heart, love and accept people just as they are, be passionate in all you do and find your purpose or job,” Fenison said. 

Young attendees pick up American flags.