Former East Texas Student Killed In Iraq - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Former East Texas Student Killed In Iraq

        An East Texas university is mourning the loss of a former student who has fallen in combat in Iraq.  

  "We're all saddened to on the athletic training staff that knew him well to hear about it" says ETBU athletic trainer David Collins.

     The staff and campus of East Texas Baptist University is mourning the loss of one of their own. 21 year old army corporal Tracy Willis, was killed in action Sunday in Samarra, Iraq.

   "Well I was saddened, I know that was a desire of his to serve in the military he came here to work on his degree" says Collins, who knew Willis well.

       Born into a military family Willis came to college to play football and get a degree in kinesiology, but an injury made him look to serving his country.

    "But I can remember towards the end of his freshman year him saying , he hoped that injury wasn't going to be able to keep him from doing what he needed to do as far as the military. He always talked about the military and I think that was part of who he was" Collins says.

    He could have sat this one out, let someone else go, but those who knew him say that wasn't him.

    "He was not a kid that was gonna sit and watch he was going to be right in it he was going to jump in and he wasn't going to wait to be called he was going to volunteer" says Collins.

    "There's a price to pay for freedom and this young man sadly paid the ultimate price" says ETBU president Bob Riley.

    His loss leaves many with a new respect for a new generation of warriors.

    "To underestimate the youth of today to say that they can't recognize evil and want to do something about it is wrong. And they're willing to step up and be counted" Riley says.

    They feel better for having known the quiet patriotic young man.

   "We bump into them we see them in the classroom we meet them everyday those individuals that are willing to sacrifice ultimately to do what they need to do for their country and for us" Collins says.

     Tracy Willis is the second ETBU student to fall in Iraq. In April of 2004, Army Captain Arthur Felder, a graduate of ETBU, was killed in a mortar attack in Iraq.

    Bob Hallmark, Reporting

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