Brian Prening was born in July 1980, and grew up in Sheboygan, Wisc., with his twin brother, Bill, and his little sister, Ann. He attended Plymouth High School, where he played track and field, football, and wrestling. After graduating in 1998, he completed the tool and die program at Lakeshore Technical College, receiving his associate degree.
In 1999, Prening, looking to ch
allenge himself, joined the Marines with a couple of his friends. He completed boot camp and went into the reserve. He then started work Kohler Co., as a machine set-up man with his father, a job he held until June 2004, when he was called back into active duty to serve in Iraq.
Before leaving, Prening married Amy Urning in August 2004. Urning had a son, Alex, from a previous relationship, whom Prening loved as his own. At the time of his deployment, the newlyweds were also expecting their first child together, Brian Jr.
Prening was assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve’s 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, based in Chicago. He served as the team leader of a four-person fireteam at the rank of corporal. His squad was stationed in the “Triangle of Death”: a region of farmland south of Baghdad that was riddled with insurgent attacks and sectarian violence.
Prening died on Nov. 12, 2004, at the age of 24, after over 70 insurgents surrounded and attacked his unit. At the time of the attack, Prening was on a roof in Yusufiyah with two fellow Marines, both of whom had malfunctioning weapons. They were under heavy fire. While providing cover fire, Prening moved over to help one of his comrades fix his weapon. He was shot as he was moving and soon died from his wounds. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with the combat “V” device for heroism.
Prening was an avid hunter. After his death, his family advocated for legislation that would allow Prening, and other Wisconsin hunters who had met an untimely death, to transfer the preference points the hunter had earned in pursuit of a hunting tag. This law would allow the deceased hunter’s family to select a child who will receive the preference points. After the law was passed in January 2006, Prening’s family transferred his points to a young boy with cerebral palsy. He was also honored at the 2021 Coca-Cola 600 Memorial Day weekend NASCAR race, with his name displayed on the windshield of driver Ryan Newman’s NASCAR Cup Series car.
We honor his service.