Thursday, September 09, 2004
Tech alumnus, Corps leader killed in Iraq
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Tim Price, 25, was a company commander in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, Class of 2001.
While on leave in April, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Tim Price returned to his alma mater in Blacksburg to talk to members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets about his experiences in Iraq. His message to the several hundred future soldiers was brief but poignant.
"In a few months or a few years, it's going to be you," Price told the cadets. "Take it seriously. Have your game face on."
On Wednesday, the flags outside the Corps barracks were flying at half-staff and plans were under way for a memorial service in honor of Price, who was killed by hostile fire Tuesday in Baghdad. He was 25.
Price's death came on the same day that the death toll of U.S. military personnel in the war in Iraq topped 1,000, a somber milestone that has refocused attention on the daily killings of troops. There was no immediate way to determine if Price, one of several troops killed in Iraq on Tuesday and Wednesday, was actually the 1,000th.
A more important number in Blacksburg was that Price - described as a natural leader by his classmates and superior officers - was the second member of the Corps' Class of 2001 to be killed since the war began 18 months ago.
"He was always a can-do person, with infectious enthusiasm," said retired U.S. Army Col. Dennis Cochrane, who was Price's Army ROTC commander. "You wanted to do your best because he was in your presence. ... Tim was one of my guys, and one of the best out of a tremendous group of men and women."
A resident of Midlothian, Va., Price was a student in Tech's forestry program. Friends and classmates said Price's leadership abilities and warm character flourished in the Corps.
As company commander in the Corps, Price oversaw roughly 60 cadets' training, monitored their academic performance and served as resident assistant in the barracks. U.S. Marine 1st Lt. George Flynn, a 2001 alum, described Price as extremely likable and hard-working.
"You have to put in some work for it," Flynn said. "By his being a company commander, it said he was looked upon very highly by the staff and the brass of the Corps of Cadets."
Lt. Kevin Rooney, a Navy pilot and 2001 graduate, said Price was a friendly face on campus. "He just seemed to get along with everybody," said Rooney. "Even if you weren't a close friend of his, you could count on him."
Price helped train Iraqi police officers in Iraq in 2003 and earlier this year with the Army's 709th Military Police Battalion. He was briefly transferred to Germany before being sent back to Baghdad, where he was killed Tuesday. Details of the attack were not available Wednesday.
While serving in Germany in April, Price and fellow classmate Lt. Jeremy Kerfoot - also a member of the 709th - were two of four active-duty Corps alumni invited to speak to cadets about their experiences in Iraq and other war zones.
But before addressing the cadets, Price and Kerfoot walked to the pylons of the Virginia Tech War Memorial to pay their respects to another classmate, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jeffrey Kaylor, who was killed in Iraq a year earlier. Kaylor's name is engraved alongside other Tech alumni killed in action since World War I.
Each pylon represents a different value: duty, honor, loyalty, leadership, brotherhood, service, sacrifice and "Ut Prosim," the university's motto meaning "That I may serve."
Col. Rock Roszak, a former deputy commandant in the Corps who knew Price well, said the young lieutenant told cadets that day that the military cannot teach a soldier everything he or she will need to survive.
"He told them 'If you follow the words written on those pylons, you'll know what to do,'" Roszak said. "And now he's going to be the 419th name on there."