ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- He was built for football.
"They called him touchdown Talbert," says John Nunn, former coach at T.C. Williams.
"Everytime he touched the ball, he tried to score."
And DeForest Talbert scored a lot of touchdowns during his time at T.C. Williams. He parlayed performance into a scholarship to West Virginia State.
"I was proud of him because he had struck the right balance," says Nunn.
Then, a life change occurred. Football wasn't working out, and Talbert and his girlfriend gave birth to a son. It was time for a tough decision.
"He really wanted to take the burden off his family and take care of his son," remembers Nunn.
So the football star turned soldier. He was committed, but what he didn't know was he was about to embark on a mission of worldwide influence. As a member of the Army's 150th Armor Regiment, Talbert participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then on July 27th, 2004...
"I remember a serviceman and he was all dressed and I just knew he was coming to our house I just knew that," says DeForest's sister Tawanna.
Talbert was killed when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb.
"The last time I heard his voice he was on the phone I didn't actually get on the phone I just yelled through the phone, 'I love you I'm getting ready to write you a letter," says his sister.
"We later found out that he had called almost all of the people close to his heart prior to the day he died, almost as if he knew something was gonna happen to him."
In fact Talbert was the first Alexandrian (Virginia) to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom, just 22 years old. But in true military fashion even though Deforest was gone, he wasn't forgotten.
His military family has picked up the pieces. Each year members of his former Regiment hosts a motorcylce ride in Talbert's honor, traveling from West Virginia to T.C. Williams High School. They've also raised money for Talbert's son DeAnte, helping fund his education. Military members often use the term brother's in arms, Deforest's sister Tawanna says it's not a cliché.
"I tell people I know I lost my brother and I love him but we've also gained so many other brothers and sisters.