Two people who knew Brad Harper well when he was a police officer in Virginia Beach recognized the same quality in him: He gave his all to what he did, they said last night.
On Wednesday, Sgt. Bradley J. Harper, 25, a Marine Corps reservist sent to Iraq a few months ago, was one of 14 Marines killed in a roadside bombing outside the town of Haditha.
Nine of the 14 killed in the explosion of their Amtrac personnel carrier were from Ohio, a Marine Corps spokesman said, and others hailed from places that included Alaska and Florida.
Harper was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Norfolk, the Pentagon said. In Virginia Beach, the police said, he worked out of the 2nd Precinct, known as the Oceanfront, and it was clear that he was highly regarded.
"What can I tell you about him?" asked Master Police Officer Rene Ball. "He was a stellar candidate" for the 750-member department, and he showed himself to be "an even better recruit."
At the police academy, which he entered Feb. 16 of last year, he was "definitely a leader," Ball said.
"He always performed to the utmost" at the training academy, she said, and he did the same kind of job on the streets.
In a written statement released through the police department, his wife, Kendra, called her husband "a real hero."
She said that he was proud to be a Marine and considered himself honored to be a Virginia Beach police officer.
"He gave 100% in whatever assignment he undertook," she said.
Master Police Officer Harry McBrien called Harper "an awesome guy" who "could handle anything" and was relied on at the police academy to work with recruits who were struggling.
When the academy staff "tried to stress him out a little bit," he "just smiled" and kept going.
On the street, McBrien said, Harper was "100 percent committed to the citizens of Virginia Beach."
"Officer Harper served the City of Virginia Beach with distinction," the city's police chief, A.M. Jacocks Jr., said in a written statement. Calling Harper "a patriot and a hero," the chief said he "chose to put his life on the line in defense of our rights and freedoms both on the streets of our city and in Iraq."
McBrien said he understood that Harper had been married for almost three years and that he and his wife came to Virginia from Ohio. He said she has been a nurse at Maryview Medical Center in the Hampton Roads area.
Harper, a communication specialist, was called with his unit to active duty in January and went overseas in March.
"This is my chance to go," he told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot then, "to do my part."