A portion of Illinois Route 116 between Metamora and Roanoke was christened the Phillip J. Pannier Memorial Highway. A ceremony was held June 10. Signs were erected by the Illinois Department of Transportation to make the designation official. Pannier was killed Jan 8, 2008, while he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He and two other soldiers from his company were killed in Samarra, Iraq. Pannier succumbed to wounds suffered following an attack by as many as 15 insurgents after several large caches of explosives were found in a province north of Baghdad. He received the Bronze Star for valor in combat and the Purple Heart for his actions.
Pannier, the son of Donald and Robyn Pannier of rural Washburn, graduated from Roanoke-Benson High School in 2006. He enlisted into the Army and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were State Representatives Tom Bennett and Ryan Spain.