Student slain in Israel was exploring life after Army

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Vanderbilt University graduate student stabbed to death in Israel during a school trip was exploring what to do with his life as a civilian after graduating from West Point and serving tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Taylor Force’s father said Wednesday the 28-year-old business student was an avid skier and guitar player who loved horses and ranch life after a childhood in Texas.

Force died Tuesday during a school-sponsored trip to learn about startup companies overseas. In a letter notifying students, faculty and staff, Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos called the stabbing a “horrific act of violence” but provided no details.

Stuart Force, Taylor Force’s father, said in a telephone interview his son graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2009, following in the footsteps of his grandfather.

Force served in the Army from 2009 to 2014 and then took about a year off after active duty. He lived in Lexington, Kentucky, before moving to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt.

Force was finishing his first year of business school and wasn’t yet sure what he was going to do when he graduated.

“He just wanted to further his education and explore more of the civilian side of life,” Stuart Force said.

Taylor Force had been making friends and having a great time at school, and he was very excited about the trip to Israel, his father said.

Stuart Force said it would be an understatement to say he was immensely proud of his son.

“He really fit it all in,” Stuart Force said. “He lived really large.”

In the Army, Force had been based at Fort Hood, Texas, as a platoon leader and fire support officer, among other duties. Force graduated high school at the New Mexico Military Institute in 2005 and was an Eagle Scout.

At West Point, Force was a member of the ski team and received a bachelor’s degree in engineering and industrial management. The military said Force achieved the rank of captain and served in Iraq from September 2010 to August 2011, and in Afghanistan from October 2012 to July 2013.

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Boese taught British literature to Force during his senior year at the New Mexico Military Institute. She said students applying to the military academies could be very competitive with each other, but Force was always “very kind.”

“He got along with everybody, and obviously was a really good student,” she said. “He was a great kid working toward a great future.”

Boese said people expect someone who serves overseas and makes it home to be OK after that.

“He always did the responsible thing,” she said of Force. “Sometimes people get passed over for that, because they don’t make a lot of noise. But he truly had something to give, and he had the personality to want to give.”

Along with Force, a dozen Israelis, civilians and police officers, were wounded in knife and gun attacks that authorities in Tel Aviv said were carried out by Palestinians.

In addition to the attacker who killed Force, three other Palestinian assailants were shot and killed in the day’s rash of violence, the latest in a wave of near-daily Palestinian assaults on Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted in mid-September.

Zeppos said in his letter that the other 28 students and four Vanderbilt staffers on the trip were safe. The university is arranging for their return to the United States.

“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,” Zeppos wrote.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people gather in Juneau for the opening of Celebration on June 5. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Federal judge considers lawsuit that could decide Alaska tribes’ ability to put land into trust

Arguments took place in early May, and Judge Sharon Gleason has taken the case under advisement.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, June 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Workers stand next to the Father Brown’s Cross after they reinstalled it at an overlook site on Mount Roberts on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Hugo Miramontes)
Father Brown’s Cross is resurrected on Mount Roberts after winter collapse

Five workers put landmark back into place; possibility of new cross next year being discussed.

KINY’s “prize patrol” vehicle is parked outside the Local First Media Group Inc.’s building on Wednesday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau radio station KINY is using AI to generate news stories — how well does it get the scoop?

As trust and economics of news industry continue long decline, use and concerns of AI are growing.

An empty classroom at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on July 20, 2022. (Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska faces consequences as federal education funding equity dispute continues

State officials offered feds a $300,000 compromise instead of $17 million adjustment.

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, speaks on the Senate floor on March 6. Gray-Jackson was the sponsor of a bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
On Juneteenth, Gov. Dunleavy weighs adding a new legal holiday for Alaska

If the governor signs recently passed bill, Juneteenth would be observed as a state holiday in 2025.

Most Read