Taylor Force was ‘quiet leader’ with ‘tremendous sway’

Taylor Force (Courtesy: Vanderbilt University/Associated Press)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Vanderbilt University community and loved ones alike are reflecting on the life of the man they say was a strong leader who excelled at everything he did.

Taylor Force, an MBA candidate attending Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, was murdered Tuesday by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel on a class trip.

MORE: Vanderbilt grad student stabbed to death in Israel

The dean of Owen, M. Eric Johnson, spoke to the media Wednesday, saying Force was “a very valued part of [their] community, a student leader.”

M. Eric Johnson, Dean of the Owen Graduate School of Management (Photo: WKRN)
M. Eric Johnson, Dean of the Owen Graduate School of Management (Photo: WKRN)

“The kind of young man that we would all hope is one of our sons,” Dean Johnson said.

Johnson further described Force as a quiet leader, “one that wasn’t quick to talk but when he talked it was always with insight and impact.”

“He had tremendous sway amongst the students. They knew that he really was a leader; the faculty saw that as well,” he continued.

Dean Johnson said it was a traumatic event, and the other 28 students on the trip, none of whom were injured, are headed home safely.

“It’s a great shock to all of us. When you think about any of the worst nightmare scenarios, this clearly fits into that category, and everyone is shocked and saddened,” he stated.

Force, 28, was a native of Texas, U.S. Army veteran and Boy Scout—someone a childhood friend said excelled at everything he did.

“I don’t think you can make sense of it. Taylor was doing what every young person should do … traveling the world and trying to learn new things,” Adam Camp told News 2 by phone.

MORE: Student slain in Israel was exploring life after the Army

As a Boy Scout, he attained the highest, most difficult rank of Eagle Scout. He was also a National Honor Society member while attending high school at the New Mexico Military Institute.

A 2009 photo provided by the United States Military Academy shows Taylor Force, a 28-year-old MBA student at Vanderbilt University and a West Point graduate who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was killed in Israel Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in a stabbing spree near the seaside city of Jaffa. (United States Military Academy via AP)
A 2009 photo provided by the United States Military Academy shows Taylor Force, a 28-year-old MBA student at Vanderbilt University and a West Point graduate who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was killed in Israel Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in a stabbing spree near the seaside city of Jaffa. (United States Military Academy via AP)

Force then went on to graduate from West Point with a degree in engineering and industrial management. He was also a member of the ski team there.

The 28-year-old was also an Army veteran, serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq, making it home from both war zones safely.

The smart and promising Vanderbilt MBA student was struck down by a Palestinian terrorist’s blade on Tuesday in one of multiple attacks across Israel that resulted in at least 12 Israeli casualties.

Force’s trip was meant to be focused on global entrepreneurship. He was planning on sharing is knowledge and insight with start-up companies in Israel.

Back here in Nashville, Vanderbilt students received a memo from the school’s chancellor about the murder. One student told News 2 it hit too close to home.

“All Vanderbilt students who read the email were very shocked by what happened,” Jeff Zhao said.

Vanderbilt Chabad, a Jewish organization at the university, said in a statement Wednesday the community, as a whole, is mourning Force’s tragic murder.

“On behalf of the Jewish community at Vanderbilt that we represent, Vanderbilt Chabad offers our most heartfelt prayers and condolences to Taylor’s family and friends; and to the other victims of the ruthless attacks recently launched against Israel,” the statement said. “When a life is extinguished through hate the void it leaves is that much more painful. No words can comfort the pain of such a loss.”

There is no word yet at this time when Force will be laid to be rest.

Click here to read all of News 2’s coverage on Taylor Force.

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