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Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

U.S. soldiers mourned

December 7, 2001

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— The note on William and Linda Davis' convenience store said there's been a death in the family. The sign on City Hall reads "Our prayers are with you, Davis family." Dozens of little American flags on the family's front yard flutter in the breeze.

The Davis' son, Master Sgt. Jefferson Davis, 39, was one of three Green Berets killed in Afghanistan by an errant U.S. bomb.

In this eastern Tennessee city just like in the western Massachusetts town of Cheshire and mountain town of Frazier Park near Los Angeles the war a half a world away has become a lot more painful.

Along with Davis, two other soldiers were killed Wednesday by the bomb Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, of Frazier Park, Calif., and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, Mass. Twenty other American soldiers were injured. Five Afghan fighters also were killed.

All but four of the soldiers were members of the Army's 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

As he placed the flags in the Davis' front yard, William Mottern, 81, said he wanted to pay his respects.

"We said a prayer for him when the new war started, and that's about all you can do," said Mottern, a World War II veteran and cousin of Davis. "He will be missed."

Davis made a career in the military. He had a wife and two children, who live in Clarksville, Tenn., just outside Fort Campbell.

Like Davis, Prosser was from a small town where he played high school football and worked at a lumber store in Frazier Park, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles.

"Although I am deeply saddened and will always miss him, I find some comfort knowing that he died doing what he loved being part of the Special Forces," said Prosser's wife, Shawna, who lives near Fort Campbell.

Prosser's father, also named Brian, called his son a "hero."

"He was the kind of guy that believed in what they're doing over there and what we're going to continue to do, and he would have been upset if he was anywhere but where he was," he said.

Petithory grew up in western Massachusetts, most recently living in Cheshire, near the Vermont border. His brother, Michael, said he "always wanted to be an Army man." He enlisted right after graduating from high school.

"My mom was distraught, and I was just crying," recalled his 20-year-old sister, Nicole. "We were proud of him, but it was so sad to see him go off, even though he said, 'I'll be back.'"

Petithory was single and had no children, his brother said. His body is being flown back to the United States. Michael Petithory said the family decided against having him buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

"We want him here, he belongs here," Michael Petithory said.

Burial arrangements

Prosser will be buried at Arlington, his family said. Davis' family did not provide details.

At a news conference near Fort Campbell, Special Forces Lt. Col. Frank Hudson said the accident only strengthens the group's resolve to win the war on terrorism.

"These brave men were all prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice," Hudson said. "We honor their sacrifice."

In Watauga, Tenn., Matt Geagley said he and Davis were school classmates at nearby Elizabethton High School and they later attended East Tennessee State University together.

Geagley said Davis got interested in a military career while in college. Davis wore camouflage pants to a mountain climbing class, Geagley said. The ROTC instructor said, "'If you join the Army, they'll let you wear those every day,' and so he did."

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