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thedrifter
12-18-05, 08:49 AM
Naugatuck man was cheerleader, wanted to be cop
Sunday, December 18, 2005
BY QUANNAH LEONARD
Republican-American

NAUGATUCK -- A local former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq was a proud and reliable young man who had a natural way of making people laugh, his friends and family remembered Saturday.

David J. Vidnansky, 22, called Dabi by friends, died at his home Thursday, apparently in his sleep.

Family and friends do not know the cause of death, and tests are pending at the state medical examiner's office.

Vidnansky graduated from Naugatuck High School in 2001 and joined the U.S. Marines. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and was honorably discharged in August with the rank of sergeant.

A military funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 163 Ortega St., Bridgeport. Burial will be in St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford.

His best friend of eight years, Kim Terni, said Vidnansky believed serving his country made him a better person, but Terni thought he was already amazing.

"It's a great tragedy for everyone who knew him," Terni said. "He was an amazing person. He would have done anything for anyone at anytime."

In a report published in the Republican-American in January, Vidnansky said his second tour in Iraq was the hardest, and he lost friends.

"Every night, before I put my head down on my pillow, I say a prayer for everybody, not just my friends but all Americans who step foot in foreign soil, every single night," he said in the report.

Terni said Vidnansky was going to be engaged to Liz Paniecia this Christmas. He bought a ring and told Terni all about it, she said.

He wanted to be a police officer and thought his military service would serve him well, Terni said.

Terni became Vidnansky's friend as a freshman at Naugatuck High School, and their friendship became further cemented during their time on the cheerleading squad.

"He was awesome," said Joni Allen, who was Vidnansky's cheerleading coach. "He was one of our comedians on the team."

A tall, lanky lad, Vidnansky would do something and just start laughing, causing others to laugh with or at him, Allen said. Vidnansky was a cheerleader his junior and senior years.

"We were like a family," Allen said. "He really just kept us all going."

When he returned home from Iraq, Allen with others, including Terni, met Vidnansky when he came off the plane, she said. They all wore shirts spelling out "Dabi." Later, Vidnansky brought Allen a dozen yellow roses. She still has the petals.

"It seems so unfair," she said. "He was like a son."

At Christmas, all the cheerleaders hang an ornament at 4 p.m. and think of one another. Allen hopes this year, they hang their ornaments in Vidnansky's memory.

Ellie

Rest In Peace