Friends and family on Thursday hailed three Green Berets who died after being hit by friendly fire as heroes — dedicated members of an elite branch of the Army who lost their lives doing the jobs they loved.

Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, of Frazier Park, Calif., Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39, of Watauga, Tenn., and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, Mass., died Wednesday after a U.S. bomb missed its Taliban target north of Kandahar in Afghanistan. All were members of the Army's 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

To friends who knew Prosser when he starred on the high school football team and worked at the local lumberyard, it seemed that he was destined to become a military hero. 

"When he went into the Army that was his dream, to become an Army Ranger," Glenn Wilson, a former football buddy, recalled.

Twenty other U.S. soldiers were wounded in Wednesday's accident. Five Afghan fighters also were killed.

Residents of Prosser's small town in the mountains of Los Padres National Forest were devastated but at the same time bursting with pride to have known a man considered a hero.

"He was a leader, a warrior and proud to be a soldier," Prosser's 22-year-old brother, Jarudd Prosser, said. "He's my role model."

Prosser lived in nearby Bakersfield with his wife, Shawna. But the family home for years has been located in Frazier Park, a bucolic mountain town with an old-fashioned Main Street that is a popular day-trip destination with Los Angeles residents 50 miles away.

"This whole community is affected. The Prosser name is pretty renowned here," said Carla Johnston, who said she has known Prosser all his life and whose husband, Joshua, attended Maricopa High School with him.

Petithory grew up in western Massachusetts and "always wanted to be an Army man," said his brother, Michael. "He was born to do it."

The communications specialist, who had also served in the Gulf War, proudly wore his Green Beret uniform when he made trips home to Cheshire, a town of 3,600 in the Berkshire Mountains near the Vermont border.

He was single and had no children, his brother said.

"He died doing a job he loved, for the country he loved," said his sister Nicole, 20.

Davis, 39, made a career in the military. He had a wife and two children, who live in Clarksville, Tenn., just outside Fort Campbell.

At the Davis home, less than two miles from the Army base, dozens of people dropped by to pay their condolences — including members of the family's church who arrived in a van. They declined to speak to reporters.

His family was proud of his service, cousin Penny McCracken told the Johnson City (Tenn.) Press.

"He was always a good guy," she said.

As friends dropped by to offer condolences to the Prosser's mother and father in California, Ventura County sheriff's deputies quickly blocked off access to outsiders to the family's rambling, ranch-style home, which is situated a half mile off the nearest road. Outside is a large sign — put up in happier times — that welcomes visitors to "Prosser Country."

Jarudd Prosser said the family knew the risks involved, adding that as soon he learned his brother was leaving for war he made it a point to tell him how he felt about him.

"In a war, people die," he said Wednesday. "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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.