As friends and family mourn the death of Lubbock native Taylor Force, world leaders commented on his passing.
Force, 28, was killed in a suspected terror attack on March 8 in Jaffa, near Tel-Aviv, Israel. At least 10 others were injured, five of them in critical condition.
The attack occurred blocks away from Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres.
“My condolences to Taylor’s family and all of those who were victims yesterday and everyday. The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” Biden said Wednesday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was among those who offered condolences to Force’s family.
“It came as a stunning shock to me to learn earlier today that in the great nation that I just visited, a Texans lost his life because of a terrorist attack,” Abbott said Wednesday. “I strongly condemn that terrorism and reiterate the way that Texas will stand side by side with our friend and ally Israel in doing all that we can to stomp out terrorist activities like this in Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Facebook Tuesday night.
“On behalf of the people of Israel, I send my condolences to Taylor’s family and friends,” Netanyahu said. “May his memory be a blessing.”
“Taylor was visiting Israel with his classmates in order to expand his understanding of global entrepreneurship and also to share his insights and knowledge with start-ups in Israel,” said Netanyahu.
After attending elementary school and Irons Middle School in Lubbock, Force moved to Roswell, New Mexico, for high school at the New Mexico Military Institute.
NMMI issued a statement Wednesday:
“New Mexico Military Institute is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Taylor Force,” said Major General Jerry Grizzle, President/Superintendent of NMMI. “Our Alumni are a vital part of our school and history. On behalf of New Mexico Military Institute, Our thoughts are with his family, friends and Community during this tragic time.”
After attending NMMI, Force was appointed to West Point by Congressman Randy Neugebauer. Force graduated from West Point and joined the Army in 2009.
In addition to an interview with EverythingLubbock.com on Tuesday night, Neugebauer released a statement Wednesday:
“Taylor Force was a Texas and American hero. Dana and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Force family during this unthinkable tragedy and horrendous act of violence. I had the honor of nominating Taylor to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was proud to learn he graduated in 2009. Taylor served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and truly represented the very best of our country. He selflessly served to keep America safe and was a great role model for future leaders. We join the community in mourning Taylor, his life was taken too soon and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”
Force served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan after graduating from West Point.
He was a member of Boy Scout Troop 505 in Lubbock as a child, family and friends said.
“Boy Scouts across the South Plains join the City of Lubbock and the nation in offering our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and loved ones of Taylor Force,” said Nathan Baie, Scout Executive.
“Force was an active Boy Scout from 1998 to 2005 and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at age 17. He will be remembered as an exemplary young man who upheld the Scouting principles of maintaining a duty to God and country, a duty to other people, and a duty to himself. The South Plains Council, Boy Scouts of America, was deeply saddened to hear of Force’s death as a result of such senseless violence. We stand ready to provide whatever appropriate assistance we can to his family members in the aftermath of this despicable act of terror,” Baie said in a statement.
Kim Swacina, whose sons were members of Troop 505 with Force in Lubbock said she and another mom used to snap photographs of almost every event that the Boy Scouts participated in.
“We had our camera with us all the time,” Swacina said. “Tried to take pictures of all the boys.”
“Taylor was about three years older than my son so he’s not in all the pictures but we got a few of him,” she said.
“Scouting is such a great opportunity for all the boys. Troop 505 was wonderful, and he fit in great,” Swacina added.
“It was good to be able to go through the pictures and actually know that we had pictures of him. He made a difference in all the scouts lives and touched everyone that he met,” she said as she began to tear up.
Vanderbilt University held a press conference Wednesday to address Force’s death.
“Taylor was really a quiet leader, one that wasn’t quick to talk but when he talked it was always with insight and impact,” said M. Eric Johnson, Dean of the Owen Graduate School of Management, where Force was attending.
“He has tremendous sway amongst the students and they knew he really was a leader. The faculty saw that as well, many of them commented to me how much the enjoyed having him in class because they always knew he would add tremendously to the classroom participation,” Johnson added.
“It’s a devastating day for the Owen community and for Vanderbilt. We are deeply saddened at this senseless and tragic death. Taylor was a very valued part of our community, a student leader, really the kind of young man that we would all hope was one of our sons and we are devastated at the loss of his life so early. And take comfort that we was with friends while that happened,” Johnson said Wednesday.
“He was good with the younger kids, and it’s just hard to know that his life was ended in such tragedy so early,” Swacina said.