California family, friends bid farewell to their hero
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — The family of a soldier killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan bid farewell to their “hero” Thursday in a funeral that was about more than one soldier.
Staff Sgt. Brian “Cody” Prosser, 28, was one of three Army Special Forces soldiers killed Dec. 5 when a U.S. bomb missed its target and landed 100 yards from them.
Family members first gathered in private at a chapel on the grounds of Hillcrest Memorial Park, sitting in quiet meditation gazing at his flag-draped casket while others wiped tears from their eyes and spoke with soldiers paying their last respect.
A public ceremony followed and was attended by about 1,000 people.
“He’s the kind of guy people don’t forget,” said Prosser’s father, also named Brian.
Prosser’s body was to be flown to Arlington National Cemetery for burial after the services.
“This is about our country,” said Prosser’s father, a retired Los Angeles firefighter who was injured on the job and now uses a wheelchair. “It’s about much more than one boy, one man actually.”
Gov. Gray Davis ordered the state flag at the Capitol lowered to half-staff in honor of Prosser.
“Cody was the very best California had to offer,” Davis said in a prepared statement. “A devoted son. A loyal brother. A loving husband. An elite soldier. A man of honor.”
Davis also sent the Prosser family a letter of condolence to be read at the memorial service and a California flag that previously flew at the State Capitol.
The Capitol flag will remain at half-staff until sunset Thursday.
People who grew up with “Cody” Prosser say he had a good sense of humor, a dose of mischief and an attention to detail.
He achieved his life’s ambition of becoming a member of the Green Berets.
It was with that group that he was killed when the one-ton bomb went astray, wounding 20 other American servicemen and killing five Afghan fighters.
Mourners arrived early Thursday, gathering on the grassy Hill of Valor overlooking Bakersfield. The Sierra and Tehachapi mountains stood in the background.
Crews from hook-and-ladder trucks from the Kern County and Bakersfield fire departments raised a giant American flag behind monuments to fallen troops.
Other crews came from as far away as Los Angeles, about 120 miles southwest of Bakersfield to pay their respects to Prosser and his family.
Los Angeles fire Capt. Lon Roberts said they came to support the family and also to acknowledge the link between the war in Afghanistan and their own colleagues who were killed in the terrorist attacks on New York.
“As a result we had to put some of our armed forces into action,” Roberts said. “Because of this, unfortunately there have been some deaths. It’s all tied together.”
Jarudd Prosser, 22, one of his brother’s pallbearers, said no wake was planned. He said his sister-in-law left for Bakersfield Wednesday to view the body and “spend time with him.”
Shawna Prosser was among a number of family members who attended a memorial service Monday at Fort Campbell, Ky., where her husband was stationed with the two other soldiers killed: Master Sgt. Jefferson “Donnie” Davis, 39, of Watauga, Tenn.; and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, Mass.
They were members of the 5th Special Forces Group.
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