Highway dedication honors fallen solider

Highway dedication honors fallen solider
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - On Friday, friends, family and a state lawmaker honored the life of a fallen soldier during a special service.

Rogers Lane from Northwest 82nd Street to I-44 was dedicated in honor of 23-year-old Army Specialist Sonny Gene Sampler.

He was one of five U.S. soldiers killed on July 8th, 2004 at a military headquarters in Iraq when insurgents detonated a car bomb and fired a mortar barrage at the building. Sampler grew up in Altus but moved to Oklahoma City with his family his senior year in high school.

Before the dedication, a ceremony was held at Cache High School and State Representative Jeff Coody thanked Sampler and his family for his sacrifice.

The Samplers couldn't find words to describe what the dedication means to them. Sonny's parents Kim and Gene said Friday was tough, but it was wonderful to see so many people appreciate what their son and other brave men did for our country.

"He was just basically a good kid," said his mom.

A hero, helper and a person who loved his family is how Kim and Gene Sampler remember their son.

"He liked to go fishing with his dad," said Mrs. Sampler.

"He caught the biggest fish we ever had for a long time. It will always stay in my mind," said his dad, Gene.

"He was very ornery. He had that strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. I mean you could see the devil shinning sometimes," said his mom.

Ricky Hoover served in the same unit as Sampler while stationed in Germany. He called him a brother and someone who always had a positive attitude.

"He was probably the most stellar, solid man I've ever met. It didn't matter if we were in the field somewhere out in the home Feltz, Germany just hating life he would be out there smiling it was contagious," said Hoover.

Even though Sampler died as a hero, his family knows this sign is only a small token of appreciation for what he sacrificed for our country. His mother said he would be proud to see this sign and highway dedicated in honor.

"He always told me he'd be famous one day. He would look at that and say 'hey look at me mom.' You know. 'Look what I did,'" said his mom.

"It was bittersweet. I mean it, it's sad that you know he had passed away and everything but at the same time it was. You know just wonderful you know that somebody from our hometown is being recognized for you know his service. You know words can't really describe it's really amazing it really is," said Hoover.

State Representative Jeff Coody said this dedication was a long time coming for Sampler.

"I think it's very symbolic that it is on a section of highway between Lawton and Fort Sill because the military is very important to our community. And we want to honor them every opportunity that we have. We're very thankful for their service their sacrifice and specialist sampler was very important to our country," said Coody.

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