From the story:
Tom was a member of the National Honor Society in high school, and he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class, Paul said. College scholarships poured in, but Tom wanted to be a soldier.
During his senior year, Tom often repeated a favorite quote from Daniel Webster: “I was born an American; I will live an American,” said (Aztec High School Superintendent Linda) Paul, who distinctly remembers a conversation she had with Tom near the end of his high school career.
“I have lunch with the kids,” she said. “I ask them about their goals. He was so memorable because he was so clear. He wanted to go to the Army. He was going to go into the Army. He wanted to be a soldier.”