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Three U.S. soldiers mourned by family and friends

CHESHIRE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Family and friends of three Green Berets are mourning the loss of the first U.S. soldiers to be killed in combat in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Danny Petithory, Staff Sgt. Cody Prosser and Master Sgt. Donnie Davis were sent to Afghanistan with their comrades in the Army's 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The three men were killed Wednesday when an U.S. bomb missed its target near Kandahar.

Six Afghan opposition soldiers died alongside the Americans, and 38 people -- 20 Americans and 19 Afghans -- were wounded. The first American to be killed in Afghan conflict was CIA officer Mike Spann, who was killed November 25 during the Taliban prisoner revolt in Mazar-e Sharif.

Louis Petithory, Petithory's father, said he and his son had recently joked about taking care of the younger man's affairs.

"Maybe anybody who does something like that has that same feeling," the father said, adding that their conversation may have contained an element of premonition. "It seemed like it, almost," he said.

Michael Petithory said his brother "lived life large" and his entire family "is very proud of him."

"It's tough to say just a little about Danny," he said. "Everybody loved him. They didn't like him. They loved him."

'This is awful'

Petithory, 32, grew up in Cheshire, Massachusetts, a town of about 3,400 residents 111 miles west of Boston in the Berkshire Mountains near Vermont. The Petithory's neighbors were heartbroken for the family.

"We just saw them in church on Sunday," one woman said. "It's sad to hear this, to have to go through this tragic event."

Across the country, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles in the mountain town of Frazier Park, California, friends and family of Prosser were devastated by the news that a favorite son -- captain of his high school football team and the youngest of four siblings -- would not return home.

"He was very easy to get along with," said former classmate Karleigh Craig. "It was just terrible. This is awful."

Prosser, 28, had been married for three years; his wife Shawna is a school teacher in Clarksville, Tennessee, just outside Fort Campbell.

Shawna Prosser asked that her husband's family and friends be left to grieve privately, but issued a statement through the Army thanking everyone "for all of their prayers and support."

"This is a very difficult time and my heart goes out to the Davis and Petithory families," she said. "Words cannot express how proud I am of Cody and although I am deeply saddened and will always miss him, I find some comfort knowing that he died doing what he loved -- being a Special Operations soldier and serving his country. He was always proud to be a part of the special forces."

'Words cannot explain the grief'

Davis, 39, grew up in the hills of upper east Tennessee, in a tiny town called Watauga, 96 miles east of Knoxville. With a population of just 400 people, everyone knew the 1981 Elizabethton High School graduate who crossed the mountains after high school to attend Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and returned to East Tennessee State University in nearby Johnson City to study nursing.

Davis' brother Danny and sister Debbie Sams released a statement through the Army explaining that the family was in shock and unable to speak about their loss.

"Our mother, father and (Davis') wife are very proud of his service and devotion to his country, but words cannot explain the grief they are going through at this time," the soldier's siblings said. "We are just trying to be together as a family to help each other through this horrible time."

The statement described Davis as "a wonderful husband, father, son, brother, friend and soldier" whose great devotion to his military career was second only to his devotion to his family.

"He enjoyed riding his Harley, skydiving, taking his son fishing, working in his yard and spending time with his family," the statement said.

Davis' wife, 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son live in Clarksville.

Petithory and Prosser joined the Army out of high school while Petithory and Davis were Gulf War veterans.


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