Veterans, family honor fallen Marine with parachute jump
Dayton Daily News
When free-falling from between 12,000 and 13,000 feet in the air, it’s hard for a person to form much in a way of coherent thoughts. But John Prazynski’s mind was centered squarely on his son, Taylor.
“I wish he could have been here with me today,” Prazynski said. “He would have loved it. He loved anything adventurous. That’s why he joined the Marines.”
Lance Corporal Taylor Prazynski of Fairfield was killed in action in Iraq in 2005. Thursday evening, his father jumped out of a plane in his honor.
“I’m doing this to honor Tyler but also remind people life is for the living,” Prazynski said. “He was a hero and he’s brought so many opportunities to his mother and myself because of his sacrifice. I think about him daily.”
Prazynski’s sky dive was free of charge courtesy of Start Skydiving in the Middletown Airport complex. The skydiving tour company offered free rides to veterans and their families by working in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Program.
“We hope we’re helping families who are having a difficult time with losing a loved one or even just having someone they care about be far away,” said Start Skydiving co-owner Gene Newsom. The company offers free rides to veterans and their families around 10 times a year, Newsom said.
“It’s just a little way to show respect and honor their sacrifices,” Newsom said.
Andy Strey was determined to prove his mettle by hurling out of the airplane. True to the Army nature, the veteran of the Iraq War opted to take the difficult road of jumping solo, a feat he could obtain only after a rigorous six-hour course.
“I never jumped before in the military or civilian life,” said Strey, who was in the Army from 1999 to 2003. His wife, Jessie, opted for the easier tandem jump, with a parachutist strapped to her back.
“It was so exhilarating,” Strey declared after safely touching the ground. “You can’t even describe the feeling. There’s nothing else in the world like it.”
The skydiving was a precursor to the MidUSA Ohio Challenge hot air balloon festival, which starts today and runs through the weekend at Smith Park, Hook Field and the Middletown Regional Airport.