Soldiers Mourned at Ky. Ceremony

5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 

 Reprint from AP Wire: Story Filed: Tuesday, December 11, 2001 9:41 AM EST


One was known for his off-the-wall humor.

A second, for his medical handiwork.

The third was a wizard with tools.

Family members and comrades of three special forces soldiers killed last week in Afghanistan gathered Monday at a memorial service to pay tribute to the men and witness their final roll call.

The dog tags, boots and berets belonging to the men were displayed in the chapel for the hour long ceremony.

Each soldier was hailed as a hero for his part in helping to free an oppressed country.

``Children are able to laugh, play and sing because of what they did,'' said Lt. Col. Frank Hudson, deputy commander of the Army's 5th Special Forces Group.

``They changed lives for the better and freed them from oppression,'' Hudson said of the soldiers' work in Afghanistan. ``What more of a legacy could anyone hope to have?''

About 300 people attended the service in memory of Master Sgt. Jefferson ``Donnie'' Davis, 39, of Watauga, Tenn.; Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, of Frazier Park, Calif.; and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, Mass.

The dead soldiers were members of the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, 50 miles north of Nashville, Tenn. Twenty other American servicemen were wounded when a U.S. bomb missed its target Wednesday. Five Afghan fighters also were killed in the explosion.

Davis was remembered as a soft-spoken, disciplined soldier, a family man and an accomplished medic who once sewed up a fellow soldier's hand after a Christmas Day accident with a craft knife.

Petithory, called ``Dan-o'' by his buddies partly because of a sense a humor similar to that of comedian Dan Aykroyd, was remembered as a morale builder who skydived in Elvis glasses and once canoed wearing a grass skirt and coconut bra.

Prosser was described as a soldier dedicated to perfection -- one who never believed he would not become a member of the elite special forces and so intent on having the right tool for home improvement projects that the workers at Home Depot knew him.

A separate service at the headquarters of the 5th Special Forces Group was held earlier in the day, and two other services in memory of the men have taken place in Afghanistan, Hudson said.

After the service, Petithory's body was flown to Albany, N.Y., arriving just before midnight. Six Green Berets carried the flag-draped casket to a military hearse bound for his hometown, about 75 miles away in the Berkshires, where he will be buried on Thursday.

Davis also will be buried near his home; arrangements were incomplete Monday. Prosser was to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

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