Bamberg community mourns Army lieutenant killed in Afghanistan
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 25, 2012
BAMBERG, Germany — He was a standout athlete who could run two miles in 11 minutes flat. He was a football star at West Point and a natural leader.
But for all his achievements, one of the things that stood out most about 1st Lt. Stephen “Chase” Prasnicki, recalled friends and commanders, was his humility and good heart.
“Above all, Chase was a friend to everyone who knew him,” said Capt. Tom Feeney, Prasnicki’s battery commander, whose remembrance of the fallen lieutenant was read to a chapel full of mourners.
“Chase always remained humble,” Feeney said.
Members of the Bamberg military community gathered at the Warner Barracks Chapel on Wednesday to mourn Prasnicki, a 24-year-old soldier who was killed June 27 when his vehicle drove over a roadside bomb in Wardak province, Afghanistan. Sgt. James L. Skalberg Jr., 25, of Cullman, Ala., assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas, also was killed.
Prasnicki, a platoon leader with 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, was killed just three days after arriving in the country, unit leaders said.
Upon arrival in Wardak, he immediately volunteered to go on patrol, showing the kind of leadership that made him a commander’s dream platoon leader, Feeney said.
Such leadership was on display early. When Prasnicki first reported to his battery in late 2011 and sat down with Feeney, his new commander, the young lieutenant said he wanted to be held to a higher standard than his peers.
“He was the platoon leader every commander wants working for him,” Feeney said.
At West Point, those qualities also were on display.
“He was a man of many talents,” said 1st Lt. Victor Ugenyi, a Schweinfurt-based soldier who was Prasnicki’s teammate and roommate at West Point.
After graduation in 2010, Prasnicki was selected to serve as a graduate assistant coach to the West Point football team. When players needed academic support and tutoring, Prasnicki was the first to pitch in.
“He just said, ‘I got this,’ ” Ugenyi said.
Before and after practice and on weekends, Prasnicki worked with players on their academics, sacrificing his own free time to help others, he said.
“That’s just the kind of person Chase was,” Ugenyi said.
Prasnicki is survived by his wife, Emily; mother Debbie; father David; and younger siblings Tyler and Lauren.
The speakers at a memorial service for 1st Lt. Stephen Prasnicki bow before a memorial display on Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany, July 25, 2012. Prasnicki, a platoon leader with 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, died in a roadside bomb blast just three days after arriving in Afghanistan.
DAVID ROGERS/STARS AND STRIPES