Two American Green Berets who fell victim to an errant American bomb in Afghanistan were laid to rest Thursday after being eulogized as patriots who fulfilled their childhood ambitions of becoming soldiers.
Mourners gathered on opposite ends of the country to remember Staff Sgt. Brian "Cody" Prosser of Bakerfield, Calif. and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory of Cheshire, Mass.
The pair were killed Dec. 5 along with Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39, of Watauga, Tenn. when a U.S. bomb carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives missed its target and landed 100 yards from them north of Kandahar.
About 1,200 mourners, some clutching small American flags, gathered at a grassy hilltop cemetery in Bakersfield, Calif., to remember Prosser. Army officers presented the 28-year-old's widow, Shawna, with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals that her husband was awarded posthumously.
Prosser's grieving father, also named Brian, delivered a moving tribute to his son, acknowledging his entire family's role in raising a man the whole nation could be proud of.
"If somebody tells you that they think your son is pretty cool, that's a good feeling," Brian Prosser said. "But when you live in a town and they tell you that, and when you live in a country and they tell you that, it's big time. It doesn't get any better than that."
The crowd stood and applauded when he finished.
The somber memorial began under warm, sunny skies as a bagpipe keened the strains of "Amazing Grace" and ended two hours later with a 21-gun salute and two trumpets blaring "Taps."
People who knew Prosser said he achieved his childhood ambition to become a member of the Green Berets, which was alluded to in a poem read by his 10-year-old niece, Taylor Prosser. She said her uncle was a born warrior, a trained soldier who tried to save America.
"My uncle Cody, a killing machine. My uncle Cody, a whisper in the sky," she said.
In western Massachusetts, at the St. Mary of the Assumption Church about 500 people jammed the pews to pay homage to Petithory, remembered as an altar boy, a jokester and a patriot.
"We knew him as a kid who always wanted to be a soldier," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "We knew him as a kid who became what he always wanted to be."
Kerry said Petithory, 32, would receive the Purple Heart and the Silver Star posthumously.
"He gave his life for his country and for all of us," the Rev. David Raymond told mourners at the church. "He served so terrorism would not rule our world."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.