A ribbon cutting to honor San Marcos native Paul Peña takes place Friday, May 26, at 9 a.m. at the TRACE subdivision located at 162 Paul Peña Drive in San Marcos. This is part of Hays County’s initiative to name roads after fallen service members and police officers from the county, according to Jude Prather with the Hays County Veterans Services Office.
Capt. Paul Peña, 27, of San Marcos, died January 19, 2010, in Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Peña was part of the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
While at San Marcos Baptist Academy, he was in the Junior ROTC where he was named “best all-around student” by the National Honor Society chapter at that school and voted most like to succeed by his classmates.
Peña created a disc golf course at the school for his Eagle Scout project. He graduated in 2000 and entered the U.S. Military Academy as a member of the class of 2004. Following graduation, he attended Infantry Officers Basic Course, Basic Airborne School and Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. Upon completion of his training, Peña reported to Fort Richardson, Alaska, with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne).
He died along with Tech Sgt. Adam Ginett, 29, of North Carolina. The pair were on a foot patrol with Afghan soldiers in the Arghandab district, just north of Kandahār, when they were killed by a roadside bomb. Five other soldiers were wounded. Peña served a 14-month deployment to Iraq as a platoon leader while with the 509th in 2006 – 2007 and was deployed to Afghanistan last year. He was previously awarded the Bronze Star for heroic or meritorious achievement or service during his previous deployments.
Peña’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf clusters, the Valorous Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachutists Badge and the Ranger Tab.
Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard called Peña a recognized leader among his peers.
“He was a quiet professional,” he said. “He always had a smile on his face and was admired by his soldiers.”
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