He was the big brother who always had the right advice to give, who called to make sure his little brother was getting along all right and turning into a good man.
That's how Mykale Adams, 15, will remember his older brother, Spc. Clarence Adams III of Richmond, who died Tuesday of injuries he suffered in Iraq on Monday, his 28th birthday. He was a mentor and friend to everyone he touched, family members said.
"He was the type of brother that always wanted to make sure that I didn't go through the things he had to," Mykale Adams said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "He was always looking out for me, no matter where he was."
Clarence Adams III, who grew up in Richmond and was stationed in Fort Hood, Tex., was injured Monday when the vehicle he was riding in hit a roadside bomb, Department of Defense officials said. Adams was assigned to Fort Hood's 91st Engineer Battalion, 1st Calvary Division. Military officials said that the circumstances of his death are under investigation.
A standout football player for Varina High School here, Adams went to Virginia Union University on a partial athletic scholarship, family members said, and joined the Army after two years to help pay for the rest of his education.
His father, Clarence Adams Jr., who served in Europe during the Vietnam War, said military service began as a means to an end for his son but became his love and passion. The younger Adams served in Kosovo and was awarded a commendation for his service there, his father said.
"He was a true soldier," said Clarence Adams Jr., 58, a pipe fitter for the Veterans Administration in Richmond. "He wanted to do right, he wanted to make a difference in the world, and that's why he went."
Mykale Adams said that Clarence was the type to worry about his family first. He said his brother often called from far-away places, filling him with the lessons of his own life and tutoring him on how to navigate tough situations.
"He would tell me never to stoop to a low level, to always carry myself with respect," Mykale Adams said.
Both his father and his brother said Clarence Adams was devoted to his family, including his wife, Tanya, and their three daughters -- the youngest born several months ago -- his mother, Mary, of Richmond, and his twin sister in Florida.
Clarence Adams Jr. said his son also had a flair for adventure and the dramatic.
"Leave it to my son to be killed on basically the same day as his birth," he said. "That was my baby . . . and he loved what he did and he loved his family. To him, that's what came first."