A bomb, a death, a war’s painful legacy: Remembering the first Californian killed in Afghanistan

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The 2,000-pound bomb followed his instructions as it raced through the cold December skies over the small Afghan village of Shawli Kot.

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At a speed of over 1,000 mph, it pierced the northwestern slope of a small hill. Cody Prosser saw an umbilical cord coming out of the northeast and heard a roar for a second, then an explosion. His eardrums were torn.

A wind of more than the strongest gust of a tornado blew him off his feet as the air around him caught fire. Airborne, he swam through an avalanche of sand and earth. A piece of fractured steel hit his head.


He fell on the ground.

Twenty Years Later, the Life and Memory of a US Army Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser is still in mourning. The first Californian to die in Afghanistan, he is at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Brian Cody Prosser was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on December 17, 2001, less than two weeks after an error resulted from a US bomb targeting his position in Afghanistan. The ceremony was attended by three soldiers who were injured in the bomb blast.
(Doug Mills / The Associated Press)

28-year-old Kodi boarded a helicopter for a pre-flight to Afghanistan on December 5, 2001. He and 13 other soldiers and airmen from Ft. Campbell, Ky., was selected to join a small contingent of Green Berets who had been fighting on the ground for three weeks.

“We must support our nation. We must avenge our brothers and sisters,” he wrote to his family shortly after the September 11 attacks. “Remember that the symbol of our country is the eagle. … Different parts of the country make up different parts of this magnificent bird. I am proud to say that I am ready to play my part as I am in an organization that makes hawk balls. ,

Cody’s swagger reflected a moment in American history when patriotism and belligerence flowed together. After his death, his family and friends kept his story and his grief a secret. Twenty years later, he speaks more openly about his loss and the disappointments he felt in what is now the country’s longest battlefield.

The bomb that killed Cody was released from a US Air Force B-52. It had followed its instructions, but those instructions were wrong. Cody was killed by friendly fire.

Kodi processors, far without a cap.  Third from the right, thumb in his belt, is Captain Jeff Leopold.
After 9/11, Cody, right, and other soldiers from ft. Campbell, Ky., was previously stationed in Jordan. His friend Captain Jeff Leopold is third from the right.
(courtesy of Jeff Leopold)


“To follow Cody’s death was a symbol of war,” said Jason Amarin, who was standing beside Cody at Shawley Covet that morning. “Soldiers and civilians died, and the war dragged on without answering the basic questions: What are we doing here? What does success mean, and how do we achieve it?”


Growing up in Riverside and Kern counties, Cody was a young man whose childhood never suggested heroism or moral clarity for acts of bravery. The limited opportunities fueled an insurgency that bordered on crime.

He reminded his mother, Ingrid Solhog, of Dennis the Menace, who could get him out of any jam. She came to Los Angeles from Sweden to become a model. A few years later, a mother At the age of 24, with an 8-month-old child and separation from Cody’s father, she moved to Bakersfield to work as a waitress.

Cody, age 5, and his mother, Ingrid Solhog, at their home in Bakersfield.
(courtesy of Ingrid Solhag)

Money was tight, but Cody rarely let his absence get in the way he wanted. Shoplifting was the thrill, the candy bar reward.

When her half-sister Lisa Donato was born, Cody, then 7 years old, helped take care of her. He adored her, and Cody and Lisa made the most of their time.

“We used to go to the apartment complex next door when it was being built and pretend we were camping,” she said. “We’ll build a small fire to heat some soup—a classic ‘don’t tell mom’ moment.”

Their time together ended when 13-year-old Cody stole $100 from a neighbor. Ingrid, by then living in India, knew she needed help raising him.

“Do you want to live with your father?” He asked.


Yes, he said, and Ingrid agreed. Saying goodbye, she never thought that she would feel such pain again.

A college football player who briefly served in the military before becoming a Los Angeles firefighter, Brian Prosser knew the meaning of discipline. After his career ended, he opened a welding shop, and his wife, Juliana, ran a nail and hair salon nearby.

Pops wasted no time putting Cody in his place. After a shoplifting incident in Bakersfield, Cody spends the afternoon confined to a hot car with his brother Jarud. After another incident, Cody spent the night at Juvenile Hall.

“That dude was a big problem,” said one of Cody’s oldest friends, Ruben Gonzalez. Both played baseball and football at Maricopa High School. “He could have been a simple student if he wanted to, but he liked to get into fights. He was kind of a badass.”

Cody Prosser moved in with Ruben Gonzalez, one of his oldest friends.
Cody, left, and friend Ruben Gonzalez in Haiti in 1994 for Operation Uphold Democracy. After graduating from high school, he entered the army.
(Courtesy of Ruben Gonzalez)

Sports helped channel that energy. Gonzalez said even a dislocated shoulder couldn’t stop him.

“Pop would come on the field, give it a tug, and Cody would be back.”

1991, the year the Gulf War ended, when Saddam Hussein was driven out of Kuwait by American troops after 43 days of fighting, the father arranged for an army recruiter to meet with some of the superiors in Frazier Park.

The pitch was easy, Gonzalez recalled: “Who wouldn’t want to jump out of planes, shoot guns, and pay for it?”



Cody’s first assignment was on Ft. Bragg, NC, where he unexpectedly runs into his old high school friend while working in a traffic accident On the basis. Gonzalez was a firefighter, and Cody was with the military police. Soon they were hanging out together, barbecuing on weekends and swapping stories.

The more Cody shared the details of his life, the more Gonzalez appreciated what his friend went through: his parents’ Raising herself and Lisa while working in isolation, Ingrid.

Cody got married at the age of 21. His wife was nine years older and a captain in military intelligence with two children. “He always wanted to have a family,” said his sister.

Cody and Shawna Glen
Cody meets Shawna Glen at a honky-tonk in Bakersfield. “He was very easy on the eyes,” she said, “and he had a great sense of humor.”
(family photo)

The marriage didn’t last, but Cody had a second chance when he met Shawna Glen at a honky-tonk in Bakersfield.

He was on Thanksgiving holiday from Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., when he saw her in a crowded, smoky bar. She was celebrating her 23rd birthday and was delighted to have a beautiful stranger approach.

“He was very easy on the eyes,” she said, “and he had a great sense of humor.”

They slow danced to Dean Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” and exchanged phone numbers. They met again the next weekend.

Cody had already been to Somalia and Haiti and decided to go into intelligence. During his next deployment, a one-year stint in Korea, he and Shawna became close in San Francisco over phone calls, letters, and a two-week vacation.


When she met him at Los Angeles International Airport in early 1998, they hugged, and he knelt down and presented her with a ring and a poem.

Five months later, they were married in Ventura, and by the end of the year, they had bought a two-story house in Clarksville, Tenn., next to Fort. Campbell, where Cody was based.

They went to church, were baptized together, and talked about starting a family. But Shawna, who taught Elementary school wanted to get a master’s degree, and Cody was abroad as much as he was at home.

“In our five years together, we were probably more apart than we were together,” Shawna said.

Showcasing unrelenting attention spans in high school, Cody flourished as an intelligence analyst with the 5th Special Forces Group. A friend described him as a “true believer” devoted to special forces missions: repression free, To free the oppressed.

a wedding photo
Cody and Shawna were married in 1998 at Ventura. By the end of the year, they were living in Clarksville, Tenn., next to Fort. Campbell. He was in military intelligence; He taught primary school.
(family photo)

Their work – intercepting and interpreting information about potential enemies – took place against a darker backdrop of al Qaeda attacks against the US: the 1998 truck-bombings at US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the USS Cole against Yemen. in a suicide attack. 2000.

After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Cody spent long periods at the base, but one night he and Shawna sat on the couch.

“If anything happens,” he told her, “I want you to know, I want to be buried in Arlington.”



Cody was dispatched on September 26, 2001, 11 days before the United States and Britain began airstrikes against Taliban positions and al Qaeda training camps.

“I don’t know what’s going on. But something is happening, and it seems very serious.”

Cody’s wife Shawna

Cody and his battalion arrived in Jordan for a training exercise. At his conclusion, the commander requested 14 soldiers for a mission in Afghanistan. Cody’s superior officer, Captain Jeff Leopold, did not hesitate to recommend an intelligence analyst.

“Cody’s man,” he said.

Next stop was Uzbekistan, where Cody wrote a letter to Shawna, in which…

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