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Massachusetts governor orders US, state flags to half-staff to honor fallen 7th Group soldier

By JIM THOMPSON | Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach | Published: September 2, 2019

BOSTON (Tribune News Service) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered the U.S. and state flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff Tuesday to honor a U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Beret who died in combat action in Afghanistan on Aug. 21, two days short of his 32nd birthday. The 7th Group is headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base.

Master Sgt. Luis DeLeon-Figueroa, who was born in in Puerto Rico but lived in Chicopee, Massachusetts, had served in the Army for more than 13 years, including a 2018 deployment to Afghanistan. He became a Green Beret in 2014, and deployed twice to Afghanistan and twice to South America. Previously, he had done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an infantry soldier. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Deleon-Figueroa initially served as a Special Forces communications sergeant, and subsequently served as a Special Forces operations and intelligence sergeant His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, a Ranger tab, Combat Infantryman Badge and Expert Infantryman Badge.

Funeral services for DeLeon-Figueroa are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Bethany Assembly of God Church in Agawam, Massachusetts. He will be interred with full military honors at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam.

"With the lowering of flags to half-staff, the Commonwealth honors and remembers Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa of Chicopee for his life of service to his country," Gov. Baker said via Twitter. His order to fly flags at half-staff applies to the main or administration building of each public institution of the Commonwealth, including town and city halls, other state-owned or state-controlled buildings and all state military installations. Flags will be flown at half-staff from sunset to sundown Tuesday.

According to his obituary, from Curran-Jones/Curran-O'Brien Funeral Homes, DeLeon-Figueroa is survived by two daughters, a sister, his foster parents and his grandmother, among other family members.

"His fellow servicemen were his family members away from home and he was especially grateful for the relationships he had with them," his obituary reads, in part.

DeLeon-Figueroa died along with another 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Beret, Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, in Afghanistan's Faryab Province

Gonzalez, who had a 17-year military career, had been with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) since 2014, serving as an engineer sergeant. He had previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2016, and had deployed to South America, the 7th Group's primary area of responsibility, in 2014 and 2018.

Also during his military career, Gonzalez was deployed twice as a Marine, in 2003 and 2005, and deployed as an Army infantryman in 2009, according to a U.S. Army Special Operations Command news release.

The 7th Group will hold a memorial service for the two Green Berets at Camp Simons, the group's compound near Crestview, but details of the service have not yet been announced.

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©2019 the Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.)
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