As you drive down U.S. 71 through Mansfield, you may notice new signs denoting the "Specialist Robert Allan Pierce Memorial Highway."

As you drive down U.S. 71 through Mansfield, you may notice new signs denoting the "Specialist Robert Allan Pierce Memorial Highway."


The signs, erected last week at the western- and eastern-most sides of Mansfield, memorialize Spc. Pierce, who was killed in June 2013 in a suicide-bomber attack on his unit in Afghanistan.


Spc. Pierce’s father-in-law, Sgt. Steve Cox with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office, began championing the highway naming after learning of similar commemorations around the country in memory of other members of Spc. Pierce’s unit, A Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. In May, the Mansfield City Council unanimously voted to support the commemorative naming of U.S. 71 through the city.


The family held a fundraiser to pay for the $600 required to purchase and install the two signs. The fundraiser netted more than $2,000, with the extra funds being donated in Spc. Pierce’s name to the Wounded Warrior Project.


Spc. Pierce was just 20 years old when he died, with a young wife and a baby on the way. Aaron Allan Pierce turned 1 last week.


"He gave his life for all of us," said Spc. Pierce’s widow, Christian. "The whole town of Mansfield knows about him, and hopefully, people will remember him."


When we see the signs honoring Spc. Pierce, we will offer a silent prayer, thanking him and all the others who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting a war in our country’s name. We hope you, too, will say a "thank you" in his memory.