Timothy R. Burke played football and wrestled in high school, hitting the weight room hard and bulking up. Even after he graduated, he returned and helped the track coach.
"He was truly a Bulldog," said his former football coach, Allen Held, referring to the high school''s mascot. "Always positive, always had a smile on his face _ that''s the way he will be remembered."
Burke, 24, of Hollywood, Fla., was killed Oct. 4 by small-arms fire in Taji. He was a 2001 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.
After graduating, he worked at construction jobs while getting certified to be a firefighter/EMT.
Michael Huttemeyer, who worked with Burke in construction, said the young man became like a brother. "I''ve had a lot of problems, family-wise, and he''s always helped me out," Huttemeyer said.
Burke''s father died in 1985, leaving his mother, Sharon Paulette, to raise three boys on her own. But the three stayed out of trouble through sports.
"He would want people to remember that he died for his country," said Melanie Hemphill, a friend. Her father, James, said: "He was a real gentleman, protective and courageous."