Highway dedicated to memory of fallen Airman

Story by Capt. Gus LaFontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Sonya Fannin (left) and her family joined Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini and State Representative Walter Blevins in dedicating a memorial highway in Rowan County named after her husband, United States Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Fannin. (Photo by Allen Blair, Kentucky Tranportation Cabinet)

MOREHEAD, Ky. — The community of Morehead renamed Highway 801 on Wednesday in honor of United States Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin.

Fannin and three fellow service members were killed in an MC-12 Liberty crash in Afghanistan in April 2013. Highway 801 will be renamed the Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin Highway. Fannin was born and raised in Morehead.

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Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini spoke at the dedication of the Staff Sergeant Daniel Fannin Memorial Highway. “I did not know Daniel Fannin, but I have known many young men and women just like him. I’ve personally visited these Soldiers and Airmen in the theater of combat. I’ve seen them serving their nation on the streets of Iraq, in the mountains of Afghanistan and in the skies above,” said Tonini. (Photo by Allen Blair, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet)

Members of the Morehead community, Kentucky State Police and State Senator Walter “Doc” Blevins and Kentucky House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins attended the ceremony. The Adjutant General of the Kentucky National Guard, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, represented Kentucky Guardsmen at the ceremony.

“I did not know Daniel Fannin, but I have known many young men and women just like him. I’ve personally visited these Soldiers and Airmen in the theater of combat. I’ve seen them serving their nation on the streets of Iraq, in the mountains of Afghanistan and in the skies above,” said Tonini.

Fannin’s mother, Sharri Jones, spoke about what it meant for her son to be honored by the renaming of the highway.

“It’s such a blessing to see this. One of my biggest fears is that Daniel would be forgotten locally. He’s had such a huge impact on so many lives I wanted his name to be before people always. In this way, a small way he can be remembered. I’m very proud.”

She also spoke about the kind of person her son was.

“Daniel was very special from the time he was very small. He always had a big heart and a big smile. It’s just who he was. He was always one that liked to make a difference. He excelled with what he did in the military and he made a difference. He made an impact.”

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Attendants pay respects to Staff Sgt. Daniel Fannin during the Ceremony to rename Highway 801 in honor of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Gus LaFontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Airmen traveled as far away as Oklahoma to honor Staff Sgt. Fannin. Airman Ben Weaver served with Fannin in Afghanistan. Weaver chuckled as he recalled the advice Fannin offered about maintaining a successful marriage.

“She’s always right. Just nod your head and say yes.”

Fannin is survived by his wife, Sonya Fannin. She emotionally discussed the kind of husband and person Fannin was.

“He would always surprise me with flowers and treat me like a queen,” she said. “He was just as good a husband as he was a son and grandson.

“He was always, always doing something kind. That’s the way he was. There was a gentleman that always stood on the side of the road. Danny had this coat that he couldn’t wear anymore. He said, ‘I want to take it down there to the guy on the corner.’

“And he did, that’s just the type of person he was. He was the best of the best, the best husband.”

Tonini remembered Fannin by comparing him to some of Kentucky’s most well-known historical figures.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a land of legends, and legendary heroes. From Daniel Boone and Jim Bowie to Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln; Kentuckians have continually played a crucial role in the development of our nation and the fight for our freedoms. Daniel Fannin is one such hero.”

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