One former Scout's dangerous road
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS TSgt. E-6 Daniel Prosymchak, U.S. Air Force, is scheduled to receive the Bronze Star for his meritorius service in Baghad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prosymchak, who is stationed in South Carolina, is a former Mary D resident and Tamaqua Area High School graduate and received citations from the Pa. Senate and House of Representatives. On hand for the citation presentations were, from left, State Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-124); Diana Prosymchak, Daniel's mother; Daniel Prosymchak and his wife, Lindsay; and State Senator David Argall (R-29).
David Argall remembered Daniel J. Prosymchak as a member of his Boy Scout Troop in Tamaqua, when Argall, the then state representative, was serving as an assistant Scoutmaster.
On Sunday, Argall, now a state senator, got to present United States Air Force Technical Sergeant Prosymchak with a citation from the Senate, on the occasion of Prosymchak being named a recipient of the Bronze Star medal.
Prosymchak, who now resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is stationed at the U.S. Air Force base there, has returned back to the States after a tour of duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Middle East.
The presentation took place at a welcome home party at Smulligan's Bar and Grill, Lafayette and Pitt Streets, Tamaqua.
Joining Argall in presenting a citation to Prosymchak was Jerry Knowles, who was elected to fill Argall's former state representative slot for the 124th legislative district, as Argall was elected to take over the 29th Senatorial seat of the late James J. Rhoades of Mahanoy City.
A Mary D native, Daniel is the son of Diana and the late Joseph Prosymchak, Jr. A 1994 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School, where he was a member of the football team, he is married to the former Lindsay Smulligan; he is the son-in-law of Tamaqua Councilman Kenneth Smulligan and his wife Gloria.
Prosymchak, 34, enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from high school. As a Technical Sergeant E-6, he has served around the world, including tours of duty in a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Afghanistan and Qatar.
The Bronze Star is the fourth highest U.S. military award and is presented for heroism, bravery and meritorious service and is being presented to Prosymchak for his second tour of duty in Iraq from Sept. 2008 through this year.
Prosymchak was in Baghdad with a police transition team with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron (ESFS), Detachment 3.
"Our main mission is to train Iraqi police so they can operate on their own," said Prosymchak, who was in charge of four Iraqi police stations, working with station commanders and the district commander, who was in charge of 10 police stations.
"I mentored and coached the district commander," explained Prosymchak. "We also do dismounted patrols, walking through the cities, doing community policing. We talked to local store owners and businesses while doing that."
There was also a dangerous component to Prosymchak's job; essentially, he and his squadron responded to bomb threats.
"We would send warriors for terrorism. We responded to calls of IEDs, improvised explosive devices, and VBIES, vehicle borne improvised explosive devices," he related.
Prosymchak said his squadron also worked on community projects, handing out school supplies, toys and soccer balls, and visiting terminally ill children's hospitals.
"I did a lot of walking around the city with the Iraqis," he noted. "At first, they were probably scared to be out there by themselves, but we built up a great rapport with them."
Prosymchak thinks the Iraqis are making strides in governing themselves.
"When I got there last September, they were building concrete barriers all over the place, and they are taking them down now," he said. "Things are getting better. They have a long way to go, but I feel they can do it."
Argall was pleased to present a Senate citation for the Bronze to one of his former Boy Scouts.
"I remember we did the week together with the troop at the camp at Hawk Mountain," said Argall, who produced a photo of the troop, including Prosymchak, at that camp. "We did windsurfing there," recalled Prosymchak.
"I'm excited to be here," added Argall. "It's great to see what he's been able to do since I saw him last."
Prosymchak said he has five more years in the service, and is considering going into local law enforcement when he retires from the military. His Bronze Star will be presented at a later date, he mentioned.