FRAZIER PARK — Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser dreamed of serving in the Special Forces. Long before he shipped out to Afghanistan, one friend said it seemed as if he “wanted to save the Middle East.”
The 28-year-old Green Beret was one of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan when a bomb missed its Taliban target and landed about 100 yards from them. Twenty others were wounded in the worst “friendly fire” accident of the war.
Prosser’s father, also named Brian, said Thursday his son “was a hero in our house and I hope he is in yours too.”
He did not criticize the military for the death of his son, who he said received the Bronze Star on Thursday.
“Fire is fire. It doesn’t matter how it happens,” said Prosser, a paraplegic who uses a motorized wheelchair. “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.”
Friends who knew Prosser when he starred on the high school football team and worked at the local lumber store shared their memories of Prosser.
“When he went into the Army that was his dream, to become an Army Ranger,” recalled Glenn Wilson, a former football buddy.
Prosser also had a fascination with the Middle East.
Family friend Dennis Penna often talked with Prosser about his tour of duty as a U.S. military adviser in Iran in the 1970s.
“When he found out I served in Iran, (that’s) all he wanted to talk about,” Penna said. “It seemed like he wanted to save the Middle East.”
Prosser grew up in Frazier Park, a tiny, bucolic mountain town about 50 miles north of Los Angeles with an old-fashioned main street that still appears anchored in the 1950s. His death left the town devastated but at the same time proud to have known him.
Albert Allen, his football coach at Maricopa High School, recalled Prosser as a tough competitor who separated his shoulder several times while playing linebacker. Prosser would trot over to the sideline where his father — an assistant coach — would put his shoulder back in place.
Prosser was captain of the team. After school, he worked at Alpine Lumber.
“He was quite a character,” said Jean Miller, the store manager. “He had a sense of humor.”
Jessica Quintana, 27, recalled riding the bus to high school with Prosser.
“He used to hang out with all the jocks in the back,” she said. “They would raise a lot of hell for the bus driver, stuff like flicking pennies from the back to the front and making noise the bus driver couldn’t find.”
Cheri Sutherland often drove the bus.
“I would have to stop and scold him, and he would just take it,” she said. “He knew he would do it again, but it was never vindictive.”
One of four brothers, Prosser joined the Army soon after graduating from high school.
Jarudd Prosser said the family knew the risks involved, adding that as soon he learned his brother was shipping out for Afghanistan he made it a point to tell him how he felt about him.
“In a war, people die,” he said. “It puts a lot of things in perspective. It really makes me think when you care about someone, you have to tell them that. When I heard he was going overseas, I left nothing unsaid.”
Prosser’s wife Shawna, who lives in Clarksville, Tenn., said she was proud of her husband.
“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,” she said at Fort Campbell, Ky., where her husband was stationed.
Funeral plans were not yet completed. But the family reportedly hopes to bring Prosser’s body back to Frazier Park for a service before having him interred in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.
The other soldiers killed Wednesday were identified as Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39, of Watauga, Tenn., and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, Mass.
All were members of the Army’s 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, stationed at Fort Campbell.
Gov. Gray Davis issued a statement Wednesday night praising each of them.
“These men served their country valiantly,” he said. “They made the supreme sacrifice for our freedoms.”