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Army Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel was finishing his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was due home next month. Instead, he was killed last week in Wardak Province, one of two U.S. Special Forces soldiers killed during a surprise attack by a person wearing an Afghan military uniform. His parents live in Madison. They are parishioners at St. George Church in Guilford. Both communities mourned his death and offered prayers for him and his family.
Pedersen-Keel, 28, recipient of two bronze stars, was a graduate of Avon Old Farms School and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Parishioners attending weekend Masses at St. George Church saw no flowers or other decoration in the altar area. They heard no opening hymn. Instead they, saw an America flag and Pedersen-Keel's photograph in full dress uniform from the Point. The opening hymn was the "Star-Spangled Banner." After all Masses, parishioners could write their condolences to the family in books provided by the church.
Madison First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said, "Many Madison residents have expressed their sorrow at the death of Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel in Afghanistan and wish to show their support to his parents who live here in town. A condolence book is available here in Town Hall, 8 Campus Drive (off of the Hammonasset Connector), for people to come and sign. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The VFW and American Legion will be providing honor guards for the book signing. Those wishing to send cards may address them to: Parents of Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel, c/o First Selectman's Office, Town Hall, 8 Campus Drive, Madison, CT 06443."
McPherson said Pedersen-Keel's parents moved to Madison in 2003. The Army captain did not live in town, but lived in southern Florida. He visited his mother and step-father in Madison during the holidays. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and posted to Afghanistan in 2012. McPherson said he was a member of Madison's VFW post.
McPherson ordered all flags at half-staff on Monday immediately after he received word of Pedersen-Keel's death; he also said, "The town stands ready to do whatever we can to honor him."
Governor Dannell Malloy ordered all flags in the state be lowered to half-staff as well.
Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery. A Mass will be held at St. George Church at some time in the future.