A West Point graduate, a US Army Field Artillery officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was an Eagle Scout, Taylor Force left behind a legacy of service when his life was cut short Tuesday night by a terrorist who went on a stabbing spree on the Jaffa beachfront promenade.
The Lubbock, Texas, native was eulogized by Barrett Caldwell, who in a Facebook post described himself as a close friend and heartbroken at the loss of a unique and heroic man.
“My boy graduated West Point in 2009 and deployed to the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served and led as a Field Artillery officer among his men in battle. His decisions, actions and leadership were heroic, and yet he stayed so humble when we talked privately.
“I know it’s often said when we lose someone, but man, Taylor was the epitome of a gentleman, a fellow military officer, and a friend. I can hear his voice and laugh now as we talked about life and memories together.”
Caldwell said he learned of his friend’s murder on Twitter and began sobbing in a parking lot a world away in Florida.
“Dude was such a good, good man,” he wrote in the viral Facebook post, adding that his friend “exemplified service, character, intentionality in fellowship, and was an absolute joy to be around time after time. Love the guy.”
In a message posted on Tuesday, Vanderbilt University chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said: “It is with extreme sadness that I write to inform you that Taylor Force, a student at our Owen Graduate School of Management, was fatally wounded March 8 in a stabbing attack while on an Owen school trip to Tel Aviv, Israel.
All other Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff on the trip are safe.
“Taylor embarked on this trip to expand his understanding of global entrepreneurship and also to share his insights and knowledge with start-ups in Israel.
He exemplified the spirit of discovery, learning and service that is the hallmark of our wonderful Owen community. This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world,” the statement continued.
US Sen. John McCain, a former US Navy captain, extended his condolences to the Force family.
“Today I grieve with the loved ones of Taylor Force, a West Point graduate and US Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, murdered yesterday by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel,” McCain said. “I pray they will find solace in the embrace of friends and family in the difficult days ahead.
This horrific attack and dozens of others in the past several months serve as a tragic reminder of the threat to the safety and security of Israeli citizens every day.”
In a November 2015 profile on the website Poets and Quants, Force said of his goals at Vanderbilt that “I want to establish lifelong connections and friendships with my fellow students from the US and around the globe.
Also, Vanderbilt already does a terrific job being a part of and giving back to the community; I would like to help maintain and promote that altruistic culture.”
Reached on Wednesday, a media representative for Vanderbilt said clearance had not yet been given to discuss the incident or provide names of other students attending the trip to Israel with Force.
A former West Point classmate of Force, David Simpkins, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Force “was what everyone expects someone who goes to West Point to be – the best and brightest, the best combination of brains and athleticism.
“There’s nothing bad that anybody I know could say about the guy,” Simpkins said.