FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Three soldiers killed last week in Afghanistan were hailed Monday as heroes who helped free an oppressed nation.
"Children are able to laugh, play and sing because of what they did," Lt. Col. Frank Hudson said during a memorial service at Fort Campbell.
The American servicemen's boots, berets and dog tags were displayed in the chapel for the hourlong ceremony.
During a final roll call, family members and comrades of the dead wiped their eyes as the men's names were each called out three times to no reply: 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 men were members of the Army's 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, 50 miles north of Nashville, Tenn.
The three were killed and 19 American servicemen wounded when a U.S. bomb missed its target Wednesday. Five Afghan fighters also were killed in the explosion.
On Monday, more than 300 people filled Memorial Chapel, and about 200 others watched nearby via closed-circuit television.
Davis was remembered as a soft-spoken, disciplined soldier others strove to emulate, a family man and an accomplished medic who once used a craft knife to sew up a fellow soldier's hand.
Prosser was described as a soldier dedicated to perfection -- one who always believed he would become a member of the elite special forces; a man in love with his wife, Shawna; and so intent on having the right tool that the Home Depot staff knew him.
Petithory was called "Dan-o" by his buddies partly for a sense a humor similar to that of comedian Dan Aykroyd. He was remembered as a morale builder and a big man "with an even bigger heart" who skydived in Elvis glasses and once canoed on July 4 wearing a grass skirt and coconut bra.
Petithory will be buried Thursday in his hometown. Davis was also to be buried near his home; arrangements were incomplete Monday. Prosser was to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
A separate service at the 5th Special Forces Group headquarters was held earlier in the day, and two other memorials have taken place in Afghanistan, Hudson said.
"These three men, these soldiers, these warriors gave themselves for the pursuit of something greater than themselves because they knew it was the right thing to do," said Chaplain Peter Dubinin.
"They gave themselves not just for a cause, but so that people beaten down by an oppressed authority might be liberated ... to know the experience, the blessings of liberty of freedom that we citizens of this precious land know and cherish so deeply."