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New York Daily News

Death Of A Hero Killed On Patrol In Afghanistan


January 6, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON - Sgt. 1st Class Pedro Muoz of Puerto Rico, a 47-year- old Green Beret killed in action in Afghanistan this week, was called "old man" by his troops, but it was said with respect bordering on awe.

"Man, he was a stud. We called him 'old man,' but Pedro was harder than woodpecker lips," said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin McDaniel, who jumped with Muoz into Yankee Stadium as members of the Army's famed Golden Knights parachute team.

McDaniel, 34, of Lakeside, Ariz., recalled that during rare lulls in their grueling training, Muoz would drop down to do pushups at warp speed to set an example for the younger troops. "C'mon, Pedro, you're making the rest of us look bad," McDaniel said he told his friend.

With his death Sunday in restive western Afghanistan near the Iran border, Muoz became the first Golden Knight killed in the war on terror. He was also one of the oldest Green Berets to fall in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The Special Operations Command said that Muoz, serving with the 7th Special Forces Group, was on a "presence patrol" with his "A- team" near the town of Shindand when he was hit by small-arms fire. He died aboard a medevac helicopter leaving the scene.

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), who was born in Mayaguez near Muoz's hometown of Aguada on Puerto Rico's east coast, said that "with his death, our community has lost a great 'compatriota.' "

Serrano called Muoz, who had earned two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart among his chestful of ribbons, a soldier "who knew what it was to love both Puerto Rico and America."

Maj. Rob Gowan said services for Muoz would be held at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Chapel at Fort Bragg, N.C., tomorrow. In the Special Ops tradition, Muoz's inverted boots, his rifle and his green beret will be at the front of the chapel.

His Green Beret buddies said Muoz's life was marked by devotion to his wife, Gisela; his daughter, Dalia, and his Catholic faith, and by pride in his Puerto Rican heritage.

Muoz showed his pride in spectacular fashion at a 1999 ceremony to mark the transfer of Army South's headquarters from Panama to Fort Buchanan in San Juan.

From a Black Hawk helicopter hovering at 4,000 feet, Muoz parachuted into the fort to deliver the command's colors. The crowd burst into applause when told that the colors were being carried by a decorated son of Puerto Rico.

"This is where I was born and raised," Muoz told the crowd, including then-Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rosello. "It's an honor to be here, doing this in my country."

Caption: Sgt. 1st Class Pedro Muoz (c.) takes to sky with fellow members of the Army's renowned Golden Knights parachute team. Pedro Muoz in undated photo. The 47-year-old Puerto Rico native and Green Beret was killed Sunday in Afghanistan.

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