Funeral services were held today at St. George Church in Guilford for Army Capt. Andrew M. Pedersen-Keel, 28, who died March 11 in Afghanistan.
Pedersen-Keel, who was one of two soldiers killed by small-arms fire that day in the Jalrez District in the east of Maydan Shahr, Wardak Province, will be buried Wednesday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Pedersen-Keel, 28, who lived in South Miami, FL, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), at Fort Bragg, N.C. His parents reside in Madison.
His best friend, Christopher Day, who met Pedersen-Keel in their freshman year at West Point Academy spoke at the funeral. Day described "PK," as he was known, as his "best friend and brother who had a passion for life."
"He dove into everything head-first," said Day. "He was responsible, mature, a true leader, and a soldier's officer who inspired others."
Day recalled many of his days spent with his friend, some funny, some sad.
"We all know that coming home like this was a possibility," said Day.
Father James Shanley, Pastor of St. George Church, said "this is a heart break and tragic loss for all of us."
Father Shanley described the accomplishments and triumphs of Pedersen-Keel's life as heroic, unselfish and courageous.
"He experienced more in 28 years than others who have lived far more a duration," said Father Shanley.
The Most Reverend Henry J. Mansell, D.D., Archbishop of Hartford, also spoke of Pedersen-Keel's leadership, noting that anyone who knew him, including his family, friends and fellow soldiers, couldn't be more proud.
He quoted from the book of John 15:13, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."
Hymns included Amazing Grace, Shepherd Me, O God, and Eye Has Not Seen.
Representing the state of Connecticut was Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, who attended the Mass of Christian Burial with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (2nd District), Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy, and selectmen from the towns of Madison and Guilford.