CHESHIRE, Mass. – Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory
Daniel Petithory, 32, was fighting with special operations forces when a U.S. bomb carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives missed its Taliban target and landed about 100 yards from the soldiers' position north of Kandahar on Dec. 5, 2001.
An Army communications specialist who grew up in western Massachusetts, he was one of three soldiers killed in a friendly fire accident, all of them part of the Army's 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
"He died doing a job he loved, for the country he loved," Petithory's 20-year-old sister, Nicole, said Wednesday night outside the house where Barbara and Louis Petithory raised their three children.
"He always wanted to be an Army man," Michael Petithory, the victim's brother, said at the family home in Cheshire, Mass. "He was born to do it."
Petithory was not married and had no children, his brother said.
Michael Petithory described his brother as a practical joker. Though 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he didn't play sports, but had always wanted to join the Army.
"As kids I wanted to play baseball," his brother said. "He wanted to play Army."
Still, he bore no grudge against the military for his brother dying in friendly fire.
"It's the cost of doing business. I don't hold any grudges. I'm sure he'd feel the same way," he said.
"They're just a family who's always been involved in town activities, a true American family," said Carol Francesconi, a member of the Board of Selectmen in the town of 3,600 in the Berkshire Mountains near the Vermont border. "He served his country, and he did what he thought was right."
The town planned to fly flags at half staff at its town hall and the local fire station.
"It's going to hit Cheshire pretty hard," said Tom Francesconi, who knew Petithory in high school. "It's very tight-knit."
Five Afghan fighters also were killed in Wednesday's incident and an undetermined number were wounded.
Already a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Petithory seemed like he couldn't get enough of Army life.
He went into basic training two days after graduating high school, where the martial arts enthusiast earned the nickname "Ninja Dan."
"On weekends we'd be out at parties around town, and he would dress up in his martial arts ninja outfit and just appear out of nowhere," recalled Blair Mahar, a high school friend who kept in touch through the years.
But Michael Petithory said his brother found his greatest thrill wearing an Army uniform.
He fought in Operation Desert Storm, and then joined the Green Berets.
"That was definitely his proudest moment," his brother said. "Joining the special forces was what he always wanted."
Growing up, it seemed that Danny Petithory was always preparing himself for how he wanted his life to unfold.
"When the other kids were in bathing suits, he'd be in fatigues," said Jim Soldo, a neighbor of the Petithorys whose son grew up with the budding Army soldier. "He's be out in the woods with a pack on and trying to hunt for snapping turtles."
As a teen-ager, Petithory organized paint ball games with friends, always trying to hone his marksmanship.
"He was always pretty skilled," said Heath Haas, 27, a friend who works at CJs Sports Bar in nearby Adams. "He always gave 100 percent. He couldn't wait to be in the military."
And that ambition put him on a clear course that made things easy on his high school guidance counselor.
"It was more of him explaining to me what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it," said Alfred Skrocki, now superintendent of the Adams-Cheshire regional school district. "I do vividly remember that he was always interested in service."
Petithory was divorced and had no children, his brother said. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The last time the brothers saw each other was two years ago, when Daniel returned on leave to the family home.
"The last memory I have of him we were sitting on this porch on a nice warm spring day," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.