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Baseball field named after casualty of the war in Iraq

May 29, 2007|by DON AINES

MONT ALTO, PA. - The field where he played Little League baseball in summers past now bears the name of Sgt. Eddie Shaffer, the first soldier from Franklin County to die in the war in Iraq.

"If he were still here today, he probably wouldn't believe all of this ... what everyone is doing for him," Shaffer's father, Edward C. Shaffer, said before the Memorial Day dedication of Sgt. Edward W. "Buzz" Shaffer Memorial Field.

On the day America paused to honor those who have died in its wars, a few hundred people gathered along the third-base line and left field of the diamond to pay homage to Shaffer, who died Dec. 27, 2006, from wounds he received from a roadside bomb on Nov. 13 in Ramadi, Iraq.

"Although his life was tragically cut short at the age of 23, the shining legacy Sgt. Shaffer leaves behind as a devoted son, soldier and American patriot will not be forgotten by his family, friends and the community," said state Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin. "Today's dedication will live on as a lasting tribute to his honor and his bravery."

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"He played Little League here ... He like baseball a lot until he got interested in computers," said Shaffer's father, wearing a "Proud to be an American" T-shirt.

"He was very competitive," said his mother, Brenda Shaffer.

"As a community and a nation, we share in their sorrow, but we cannot imagine their grief," said Robert Harris, Franklin County Veterans Affairs director.

"We must remember it every day, not just Memorial Day," Harris said of the sacrifices made by Shaffer and other members of the armed forces.

Before the ceremony, Harris said this tight-knit small town remembers its veterans. Four streets are named for Mont Alto men killed in World War II, he said.

Shaffer's legacy will be remembered in other ways, as well. Donations in Eddie Shaffer's name allowed the Mont Alto Fire Co. to purchase a trailer to transport Ranger 5, an all-terrain vehicle used for rescues in areas inaccessible by other vehicles, Chief Sean Adolini said.

"I'm very honored for all the support we've gotten" from the community, Edward C. Shaffer said before the ceremony. "I hope his memory remains for a long time."

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