Daren was killed Sunday, February 20, 2011, in Afghanistan while conducting combat operations.
My husband, Steven Peaslee, and Daren's father, Jorge Hidalgo, were in the same company while attending United States Military Academy at West Point together.
Like his father, Daren was also a graduate of West Point, as was his older brother, Miles Hidalgo. Daren graduated from the military academy in 2009, and after one year of training he headed off to Afghanistan.
Daren's father says he was kind-hearted, and the sparkle in everyone's eye; A happy-go-lucky kid who would do anything for anyone. Clearly, the same was true about his country.
Everyone was always joking around with Daren. He had a magnetic personality, and the best smile you could ever imagine- infectious and contagious.
Aside from his military career, Daren was a heck of an athlete- one wrestling match away from a state championship in high school.
When people speak about Daren, they first mention his smile. We can all see the smile they speak about in this picture - and yes, it is infectious.
Daren is an example of the unyielding bravery that all of our service men and women possess - willing to protect our country while laying their lives on the line.
Daren's young, beautiful life was taken far too soon, but not in vain. We will remember him forever as a true American Hero.