In what has always been a typical Warwick community response, there was an outpouring of sadness, love and support for the family of Dan Prial, 30, a helicopter pilot and member of the New York National Guard, who died in a training mission accident on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Prial, the son of Anne and Greg Prial of Warwick and a graduate of St. Stephen-St. Edward School, Warwick Valley High School and West Point, had served as a captain and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army since 2012. He recently received an appointment as warrant officer in the New York Army National Guard in order to continue to fly both with the military and as a civilian pilot.
On Jan. 20, the UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter, a Sikorsky Black Hawk, crashed on a routine training mission after 6:30 p.m. in a field in Mendon, near Rochester. The pilots had been conducting night vision goggle proficiency training in the local training area.
Two other pilots, Chief Warrant Officer Steven Skoda and Chief Warrant Officer Christian Koch, were also killed in the crash.
The impact of Sept. 11 on a young boy
Prial had said he was drawn to apply for an appointment to West Point after his father survived as a firefighter during the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It was the day he decided he wanted to go to West Point, a dream later realized.
As a U.S. Army Captain Prial had served as a medical evacuation platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. He was twice deployed to Afghanistan and had also served as an instructor pilot.
While at Warwick Valley High School, Prial had been a track star and one of the first students in Orange County to become a member of the International Mathematics Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta.
As ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, all flags throughout the state were lowered to half-staff.
And in Warwick, members of Warwick Valley Rotary and the Warwick Knights of Columbus planted 140 of Rotary’s Flags for Heroes outside the homes in the Prial family’s neighborhood.
Memorial services are still being worked out. For the latest information on the wake and funeral visit:
Chief Warrant Officer2 Dan Prial’s obituary appears on page XX.
“The loss of a remarkable young man, Dan Prial, is a loss felt by our entire community. Our hearts are broken as we mourn a life that already had accomplished so much. Dan’s service to our Nation had already given us a glimpse of all he would have contributed in the years ahead. We pray for his family and let them know all of Warwick is here when they need us.”
Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton
“We have faced many tragedies over time - this may be one of the most difficult. As a community we mourn the loss of Chief Warrant Officer2 Daniel Prial. Our love, and prayers go out to the Prial Family. Our hearts are truly saddened by the passing of a native son, a hero. In the Village we’ve mounted flags to honor Dan, and with the help of many friends and neighbors along the street where he lived to show our respect for this young man who so deeply loved his family, home and Country.”
Mayor Michael Newhard
“The Saint Stephen Parish Community is deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss of a young man who served his country in Afghanistan and at home. We mourn with his parents, Greg and Ann and his brother and sisters.”
Rev. Jack Arlotta, pastor of the Church of St. Stephen, the first Martyr.
“I was very saddened to hear of Dan’s passing. As a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel myself, any military accident is particularly tragic to me. Yet in this case, it was also very personal. Dan is someone who I’ve known not only selflessly served our country for many years, but he was a gentle, caring person, too. My godson Liam Lynch, who hails from Michigan, and like Dan who is also a West Point graduate and an Army helicopter pilot, found himself as one of Dan’s students at flight school, at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Liam described Dan as a very personable officer who while he was senior to his students, demonstrated his leadership by truly getting involved with the junior officers in his classroom on a personal level. He said Dan was very much one of the guys, even participating on their various intramural sports teams together. Dan comes from a very large Warwick family, yet Dan had a family of many, that went well beyond his biological roots. He will be greatly missed, by many.”
Edward M. Lynch
“I remember Danny from St. Stephen’s. Right after 9/11 he came to my office and told me he was going to go to West Point. He was in sixth grade. After he graduated, he would come to visit periodically, sit in my office and tell me he was going to go to West Point. I would say remember to invite me to your graduation. He did. Danny was one of the special ones. “
Mary Lou Moccia, former principal of St. Stephen-St. Edward Elementary school
“We were saddened to learn that Danny Prial, son of our colleague, Dr. Anne Prial, was among the three National Guard members who died in a helicopter crash in upstate New York on Wednesday. We mourn for each of the three victims and their families, but our grief is most profound for the Prial family.”
Carol A. Murray, executive assistant to the President, SUNY Orange
“Dan was how you wish your own kids would grow.”
Paul Cornine, longtime family friend