Paul Peña was born July 8, 1982, in San Antonio and grew up in San Marcos. He attended De Zavala and Bowie elementary schools and Lamar Middle School before enrolling at the San Marcos Academy for high school.
Peña graduated from the San Marcos Baptist Academy 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.
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. He had previously been awarded the Bronze Star for heroic or meritorious achievement or service during his previous deployments.
Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard called Peña a "recognized leader" among his peers. He further stated "Peña was a quiet professional; he always had a smile on his face and was admired by his soldiers".
Capt. Paul W. Peña, 27, of San Marcos, passed away Jan. 19, 2010 in Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
NOTE TO FRIENDS:
I had retired early from San Marcos Academy in 1991, years before Paul entered the school. However, I have stayed in close contact with a group of retired teachers whom I consider my best friends. That's the way the Academy works--lifetime associations and friendships are forged, and we never forget each other. Those who did know and teach Paul have always spoken highly of his character, his academic achievements, and his leadership abilities.
I wish I had known this student, but even so, he was "one of ours."
Memorial Day, May 28, 2012
For those who sacrified all for the love of their country.