A small town is mourning the loss of Army Staff Sgt. Benjamin Prange, who was killed July 24 while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.
"It really is a tragedy," Hickman Mayor Doug Hanson said Monday. "Our prayers and thoughts and support are with his family. If there's anything that we can do as a community to assist in any way, then we'll do that."
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Defense Prange, 30, a Hickman native, was killed in Mirugol Kalay in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province from wounds sustained  from an enemy attack on his vehicle with an "improvised explosive device."
Pfc. Keith Williams, 19, of Visalia, Calif., was also killed in the attack.
Prange and Williams were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division of Fort Carson, Colo.
Prange was serving his third tour in Afghanistan.
He is survived by his wife, Liz, and two sons. The two attended Norris High School together.  
Hanson said to his knowledge that Prange is the first soldier from Hickman to die in action during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Hanson has heard that the funeral was going to be in Hickman, but nothing has been determined at this time.
The U.S. Defense Casualty Analysis System reported as of Monday that out of all four military branches 2,334 soldiers have died in Operation Enduring Freedom, 4,412 have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and 66 have died in Operation New Dawn.
An Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations spokesman said Prange's remains have been sent to the Air Force Base in Dover, Dela., on Saturday evening.
A Facebook page titled "Remembering SSG Ben Prange" was created Friday.
The Hickman mayor has requested permission from state Gov. Dave Heineman to lower the flags to half-mass until Monday.
"My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies are with the family and loved ones of Staff Sergeant Prange during this difficult time. His ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his country is a solemn reminder to us all of the high price of freedom," U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said in a statement. "I join all Nebraskans in honoring the memory of this brave American. We are forever indebted to Staff Sergeant Prange for his selfless service."
The governor released the following statement to the Nebraska City News-Press on July 29:
“I appreciate Staff Sgt. Prange’s service to our country.  
“He was a decorated soldier and an American hero who gave his life to preserve America’s freedoms. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”