After Virginia Tech's ROTC students heard Wednesday that one of their alumni, 1st Lt. Timothy E. Price, had been killed in combat in Iraq, they spontaneously hung a wreath on the campus war memorial in his honor and posted a military detail around the tribute all night long.
It was just one example of the impact Price had on his classmates, friends and family, said retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rock Roszak, director of alumni programs for the university's Corps of Cadets.
Price's life was defined by his service to others, Roszak said.
"He inspired folks and everyone who worked with him," said Roszak, his voice trembling. "He was always there to take care of his people, and he did it really well. If you needed anything, he would get it done, even if he was too busy."
Price, 25, of Midlothian, Va., was killed Tuesday by hostile fire in Baghdad, according to a statement released yesterday by the Defense Department.
Price's brother, Tommy, said his parents were too grief-stricken to comment yesterday. Of his older brother, he simply said: "He was a war hero."
In a statement, Price's father, John, wrote, "We were blessed to have him for a son, and we are crushed to have lost him. I can't begin to list all the plans that we had made that will never come to fruition, all the opportunities to spend quality time that will not happen now that he is gone. . . . Will we miss him, yes, always; did he die in vain? No, not as long as other Americans are willing to put their lives on the line to keep our country safe and make the world a better place."
Price graduated from Virginia Tech in 2001 with a degree in forestry and as a member of the Corps of Cadets program. He was assigned to the 709th Military Police Battalion.
During his senior year, he was one of 11 company commanders in the cadet program and was responsible for 60 students, Roszak said.
Few students exemplified the qualities of leadership as well as Price did, Roszak added. "He was a guy who cared about his people and who led by example," he said. "And boy, those are keys to leadership."
Price was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed. Before returning there, he visited the Virginia Tech campus to give a talk to ROTC students.
He told them of his experiences during his first tour. Then he talked about the unpredictability of life and urged them to build their lives around the virtues engraved on the pylons at the campus war memorial: brotherhood, honor, leadership, sacrifice and duty.
The pylons also list the graduates who have perished in every war since World War I. Price's name will be added to one of them, Roszak said.
The pylon where his name will be engraved carries the words "Ut Prosin," a Latin phrase that means "That I May Serve."