Hundreds of people and American flags stretched for miles to pay tribute to Sgt. Dean Shaffer, 23. Shaffer died in Afghanistan last week.
"It's obviously a somber event you know. There's a lot of emotions going through people," said Jason Bernard with the Patriot Guard.
A funeral procession stretched from the 182md airlift wing in Peoria to the Preston Hanley Funeral Home in Pekin. Shaffer's body arrived in Pekin around 3 p.m. on Thursday . More than one hundred members of the Patriot Guard escorted the soldier to the funeral home.
Many say Shaffer led the life of a hero
"He didn't have the cape. He had the dog tags.And that's what its all about, the heroes," said Charlene Turner of Pekin.
Shaffer was more than a hero to Brittany Allen. He was a friend.
Allen and Shaffer were high school friends. She says she'll miss watching movies at the Shaffer's home.
"He was a good person," said Allen.
Tears and hugs were passed around as family, friends and bystanders watched the sad procession.
Julie Waughop's son returned home from deployment four years ago. She says he suffered life-threatening injuries, but survived. She says she's lucky to have her son home, and she can't imagine the pain of Shaffer's family.
"All i can say to the other mother," said a tearful Waughop. "Is you'll see him when you get home."
Allen says he'll never be forgotten.
"The smile. His dimples. Just everything about him. There's not one bad thing anybody could ever say about him. Ever."
Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. A funeral service for Shaffer is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday .
Both events will take place at Preston Hanley Funeral Home in Pekin.