Remembering a Connecticut Hero with a Run Ruck

Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel grew up in Connecticut, in Canton, Wallingford and Madison. He graduated from Avon Old Farms and then the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and dreamed of becoming a Green Beret, the Army’s Special Forces. It’s a grueling and difficult process to become part of this elite group and Andrew made it.

This is from his official biography: Andrew deployed with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment in support of OEF IIX and IX as an executive officer in June of 2008. He was selected for a second platoon leadership position in September 2008 with 3rd Platoon, B Company. He remained with 3rd Platoon, B Company for the duration of that deployment. As a Platoon Leader in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Andrew led his platoon in over 150 combat foot patrols and three air assault operations in an area of operations that included five different villages.

In November 2009, Andrew attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection. By September of 2010, he had graduated from the Maneuver Captains Career Course at Fort Knox, KY and he began the Special Forces Qualification Course in November 2010. During this time, Andrew studied Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. Andrew graduated from his Special Forces Qualification Course in 2011 and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group where he served as an ODA Commander until his deployment to Afghanistan in August 2012 as an ODA Commander. In March of 2013, he was team leader of ODA 3126.

On the morning of March 11, 2013, Captain Pedersen-Keel was concluding a patrol briefing when a 20 year-old Afghan betrayed the Americans who were helping him, jumped into the back of an Afghan police pickup truck, grabbed the machine gun mounted on the truck bed, and mowed down the Special Forces team. Andrew was mortally wounded.

Here’s a video of Andrew’s parents Bob and Helen Pedersen-Keiser talking about their son:

Kara and met Andrew’s father this past weekend at an event to honor this American hero. Helen was at a similar event in Guilford at the time. It was a 5K run, ruck, walk. What’s a ruck? Those who took park were encouraged to wear a backpack filled with canned goods to donate to the “Town that Cares” food pantry in West Hartford, sponsored by Fleet Feet. Suggested weights are 10lbs for those weighing less 150lbs and 20lbs of canned goods for those weighing more than 150 lbs. A ruck, sometimes called a rucksack, is the military backpack that service men and women wear to carry all their gear and supplies. Andrew was wearing one when he lost his life.

Bob and Helen are Gold Star parents, who have dedicated their lives to helping the military by creating a charitable organization in Captain Pedersen-Keel’s memory to honor his legacy. APK Charities provides help to military members and their families, and it needs your help.

On this Veterans Day, I ask that you donate here:

More about APK charities here:

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