Taylor Force, a former field artillery officer in the U.S. Army, a West Point graduate and a graduate student at Vanderbilt University who was killed by a Palestinian knife assailant Tuesday was remembered by a former classmate as “sharp,” “professional” and a “model of America’s finest.”

Vice President Joe Biden during a press conference in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Taylor, a 29-year-old Lubbock, Texas, native, had served two overseas tours — in Afghanistan and in Iraq — and had a “brilliant future.”

A friend of Force told Nashville’s WSMV-TV that his death was particularly tragic given that the Army vet was finally having a chance to do something for himself.

“Being a West Point graduate, you know, serving his country proudly overseas, and now having the opportunity to pursue his own interests,” Seth Thompson told WSMV. “If there was any way possible to add to the layers of tragedy, this would do it.”

“Anybody that has met Taylor would know your life was improved getting to know him,” Thompson said. “He was a bright individual. Just the kind of guy you want to hang out with, you want around you.”

David Simpkins, a West Point graduate and U.S Army veteran, wrote Wednesday in the Times of Israel that he was Force’s classmate at West Point.

He described Force as a student who laughed and smiled a lot:

He was very mild-mannered, sharp, and professional. I couldn’t think of someone who was more of a model of “America’s finest” than him. He was handsome, articulate, brilliant, and just so GOOD. I can’t think of a moment where he wasn’t exuding an aura of pure positive energy. He was as honest and heartfelt as they come, but now he’s dead. […]

As I write this, there are parties from Gaza to Ramallah continuing all day, and probably tonight. It’s not every day they get a former U.S. Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. For them, this is a great boon.

Nicholas S. Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, wrote to the university community that the student had been killed while on a school trip with other students, faculty and staff.

“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,” Zeppos wrote.

Israeli media reported that 12 other people were wounded in the stabbing attack before the assailant was shot dead by police. Among those stabbed was a pregnant woman, the New York Times reported.