Remembering Enfield man killed in Afghanistan
By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Wed., Jul. 13, 2011
According to Paul Protzenko’s children and grandchildren, he was the best man you could ever meet in a lifetime. Protzenko was killed last weekend while working for defense contractor MPRI in Afghanistan.
Rick Kiernan, senior vice president of strategic communications with the company, said Protzenko came to work for them after retiring as a Connecticut state trooper. His role in Afghanistan was working with the military to train Afghan police.
“I think it says a lot about his character that he would take a career that he already completed and take the skills he learned as a state trooper and bring them to another assignment in another country where he could help out,” Kiernan said.
Before becoming a state trooper, Protzenko spent six years in military service. He retired from the Connecticut State Police after 21 years.
Lt. Paul Vance, spokesperson for the state police, said the last two troops Protzenko worked with were Troop H in Hartford and Troop W at Bradley International Airport. In those roles, he interacted with several Connecticut motorists, as well as many just passing through.
“He was the type of individual who has been serving every day of his professional life,” Vance said. “He was well-liked and an excellent trooper.”
Indicative of his service to the state, Vance said Protzenko received two medals for life-saving and another medal for meritorious service during his time as a state trooper.
“He was a very active, caring and concerned professional trooper,” Vance added.
Protzenko’s future son-in-law, Rich Ducharme, recently gathered the children and grandchildren together to share memories. Grandson Tyler remembered Protzenko reading to him from karate books, then tucking him in at night. Laura, a granddaughter, said she liked to sit on her grandfather’s foot while he walked her around the house. Protzenko’s stepson, Matt, recalled going to the shooting range when he was 12 and learning to shoot his first weapon from his stepfather.
Ducharme said everyone agreed that Protzenko was always there when they needed something, proving his commitment to serve his family, as well as his state and country.
A wake for Protzenko will be held Sunday, July 17, at Leete-Stevens Enfield Chapels from 3 to 8 p.m. The funeral will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at Saint Adalbert Church.