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Defense chief visits national guard unit at Guatemala goodwill project where soldier died

  • Hagel Guatemala-1.jpg

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina visit the Beyond the Horizons site in Los Limones, Guatemala, Friday, April 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Shannon Stapleton, Pool) (The Associated Press)

  • Hagel Guatemala-2.jpg

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina visit a U.S and Guatemalan school building base in Los Limones, Guatemala, Friday, April 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Shannon Stapleton, Pool) (The Associated Press)

  • Hagel Guatemala-3.jpg

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina embrace before his departure from Guatemala City, Guatemala, Friday, April 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Shannon Stapleton, Pool) (The Associated Press)

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel got a firsthand look Friday at the dangers as well as the benefits of the U.S. military's goodwill-building humanitarian work.

Hagel toured a health clinic and a construction site in a remote mountain village where U.S. Army soldiers, including Missouri Army National Guard, are erecting a new wing on a tiny schoolhouse.

Just three days earlier, 24-year-old Army Spc. Hernaldo Beltran Jr. was killed by a branch that broke off a towering tree a few feet from the school.

With the damaged tree as a backdrop, Hagel thanked a small gathering of soldiers for their work. He did not mention Beltran by name but expressed remorse "for what happened here," adding, quote, "Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of those who were injured."