Saturday, July 09, 2011

Army Vet, US Trooper First Class, Retired, Paul Protzenko

Remember Our Heroes

Army veteran and retired US Trooper First Class, Paul Protzenko, 47, of Enfield, CT.

Civilian contractor, Paul Protzenko, died in Afghanistan 9th July 2011 while working for a private contracting firm training Afghan police.

Paul Protzenko was in the vehicle with SFC Pasker (who was also killed) when an Afghan security officer stopped their vehicle and opened fire. Both men died at the scene.

MSgt Todd Epperlie, in front of the vehicle carrying Paul Protzenko and SFC Pasker, shot and killed the Afghan guard. MSgt Epperlie was wounded in the gunfight, but survived.

Paul Protzenko retired in 2009 after 20 years service working for the Connecticut state police. Prior to that, he had served in the US Army for six years before being injured in a parachute jump.

Protzenko was a married father of three. His son, Matthew Protzenko, who served in Iraq, said he was notified of this father's death the day it happened.

"I don't think you could find anyone in the state police who would say anything bad about him," said Sgt. Lauren Rondinone, a supervisor at the state police barracks at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, where Protzenko worked at the end of his career.

"He was a gentleman, a guy who dedicated his life to the service of his country and service to his state," Rondinone said.

"Neighbor, Lucy Preston said, "I just feel really bad that we got the news last night that he died. It's terrible. The kids used to play together and he always used to come over and just make sure everything was OK."

“He always loved the service,” said brother-in-law, Bellefeille said. “Of course he made money going over there to train those guys in Afghanistan. But I think it meant more to him than the money. He wanted to help those people bring law and order to their country. He also just loved being with the Army.”

“He was just the sort of man you strive to be,” Bellefeille said. “I think my kids thought of him as a bigger father figure than they do me.”

At family gatherings, Protzenko spent time with the youngsters instead of socializing with the grownups, Bellefeille said.

“He kept them entertained and he kept them safe,” Bellefeille said.

Lt. Paul Vance, of the State Police, said, "Paul simply was a man who dedicated his life to his country, his family, and the people of Connecticut he continually served."

Paul Protzenko is survived by his wife and three children.

No comments: