Cecilia Peña, the mother of deceased soldier Paul Peña, received honor on his behalf from the Hays County Commissioners Court. Holding a proclamation in front are Cecilia Peña, left, and Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe, right. Behind them, left to right: Hays County Judge Liz Sumter, Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford, Peña family friend Sherry McCoy, Peña family friend Aleene Howser, Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley and Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton. Photo by Sean Batura.
By SEAN BATURA
Hays County officials paid tribute this week to fallen soldier Paul Peña, the San Marcos native killed in the American Sector of Afghanistan last month by hostile forces.
Cecilia Peña, mother of the 27-year-old U.S Army Captain, met with Hays County commissioners to receive their thanks, condolences, and a memorial proclamation listing her son’s honors and achievements.
The proclamation, signed by every member of the Hays County Commissioners Court, calls upon “the people of Hays County to express our patriotism, our pride, our respect and our sorrow in memory of this noble soldier and patriot and our deepest condolences to his family at his sacrifice on behalf of freedom.”
Paul Peña was an Eagle Scout who took part in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at San Marcos Baptist Academy, where he graduated in 2000 before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point. After graduating from West Point in 2004, Peña entered active duty military service and was deployed to Iraq during 2006 and 2007. Peña deployed to Afghanistan to command a unit sometime after the summer of 2009.
Peña’s mother is a long-time music teacher at Kyle Elementary School.
“Words can’t describe the gratitude that we feel for your son serving our country, but also the sorrow that we feel at the loss of his life,” Hays County Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) said to Cecilia Peña. “So we really appreciate you taking the time to be here and allowing us to honor and remember your son in this small way.”
During his days at the San Marcos Baptist Academy, the National Honor Society awarded Paul Peña the title of “best all around student,” and the student body voted him “most likely to succeed.”
Said Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (D-San Marcos) to Peña’s mother, “Our community can’t say enough about your son, and the sacrifices that he made for our country. He’s a patriot and a hero. I have so many people coming up to me from the Academy — people that had gone to school with him, people that knew him as he was growing up — and they had so many pleasant things to say about him as a person … And I know that you’re very proud of your son and what he stood for. This is just a small token of our appreciation for that, and it will go down in our local archives in history. Tomorrow, two hundred years from now, two thousand years from now, people will know there are those that served from our area, this city, this county, that served and fought in this war.”
According to the proclamation, Peña received 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.
“I’m amazed at the total outpouring of support that the whole community has given to … Paul and his service,” said Cecilia Peña. “He loved the Army and he loved what he was doing. He believed in it.”Email | Print