LEXINGTON, VA --
A local solider was killed in the line of duty just days after he deployed.
Rockbridge County football coach Jason White says Army Ranger Chase Prasnicki, 24, left for Afghanistan on Sunday and died Wednesday after an IED blast. He was stationed in Germany.
Prasnicki was a 2006 graduate of Rockbridge County High School, where he was the starting quarterback of the football team and played under White.
"The two words that come to mind are leader and hard worker. No one was going to out work Chase" says White.
Pictures of Prasnicki are everywhere at the school. His Wildcats football picture hangs in the weight room where he spent a lot time and his West Point football picture hangs on the Wall of Fame, along with other Rockbridge graduates who went onto play college sports.
"He was a great kid. He was a big reason why Rockbridge County football turned the corner" says White.
He says the defining moment in Prasnicki's football career was in a game during his junior year. They were playing Ft. Defiance and were down with just minutes left.
"Chase steps into the huddle and the huddle just goes silent," says Chris Leach, who played with Prasnicki. "It's just pure respect. Just stare at him like, 'What's our leader going to say now?' And he looks at us and he just smiles and he says, 'Do you guys really think that we're not going to be able to win right now?'"
"Guts of steel, instead of throwing the ball, he tucked it down and dove for the end zone in the last second of the game and led us to a victory" says White.
After graduating from Rockbridge County High School in 2006, he went on to West Point, where he played quarterback and later safety.
"I thought it was a perfect fit for him because, being the leader that he was, I felt like he would be a fine leader in the armed forces" says White.
Above all, both White and Leach remember the soldier's character.
"Its hard to embody him in words," Leach says. "He was one with the highest form of moral character. Just hard working, integrity, every good word you could possibly think of. He was successful in everything that he touched, overall just a great guy. Everybody's hurting. I don't think you will find a person in this county that knew him that would ever say anything bad about him. He was friends to everyone. He, in my opinion, is the definition of what an American hero is."
Prasnicki leaves behind a wife, Emily, his parents and siblings.
A candlelight vigil is planned for Thursday night at 8:30 on the Rockbridge County High School football field.