Capt. Paul Pena
Paul Peña's mother Cecilia Peña (second from left) was on hand for the dedication of Paul Peña Drive in the TRACE subdivision along with dozens of family and friends. Pictured are Mayor Jane Hughson, Cecilia, Hays County Veteran Services Officer Jude Prather and Councilmember Matthew Mendoza.
Daily Record photo by Dalton Sweat
Paul Peña Drive was dedicated at the corner with Jane Long Drive.
Daily Record photo by Dalton Sweat
Road dedicated in honor of Captain Peña
The word hero is tossed around in society - sometimes a bit flippantly. And then in others, even such a hallowed term doesn’t seem like enough. When it comes to Captain Paul Peña, a San Marcos Baptists Academy graduate who gave his life in the line of duty fighting for the United States of America, even the word hero doesn’t seem to be enough.
“He was a hero. He was a patriot. He will always be remembered in our community,” Hays County Veterans Service Officer Jude Prather said.
Peña was memorialized on Friday, May 26 as Paul Peña Drive in the TRACE community, on the southeast side of San Marcos, was dedicated in his honor. This is part of Hays County’s initiative to name roads after fallen service members and police officers from the county, according to Prather.
“I am honored that a street is being named after Paul,” Cecilia Peña, Paul’s mother, said at the ceremony. “He loved helping people, and he loved the Army.”
Peña died on 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.
Peña left his mark on San Marcos as well.
While at San Marcos Baptist Academy, he was in the Junior ROTC where he was named “best allaround student” by the National Honor Society chapter at that school and voted most likely 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.”