A 22-year-old member of the Army National Guard has become the latest Western New Yorker to lose his life in the war in Iraq.
Spc. David L. Roustum, of West Seneca, a 2000 graduate of Orchard Park High School, was killed over the weekend in Baghdad, family members told authorities.
Orchard Park High School students and staff members observed a moment of silence today after being informed of Roustum's death over the school's public-address system.
"David was an outstanding student, athlete, soldier and human being," Principal Robert Farwell told the students.
Roustum, who played varsity football and club hockey at Orchard Park High, was described as a strong student who was attending the University at Buffalo and majoring in accounting.
Family members said that Roustum was killed sometime Saturday, possibly when his Humvee was struck by enemy fire.
The Department of Defense still had not posted his death on its Web site this morning, and military officials refused to confirm his death.
"I had Dave in my phys ed class. He had a grin on his face, and he lit up the classroom," said Joseph Biondo, a physical education teacher at Orchard Park High School.
"I think the best thing I can say about Dave is that he led by example and was very, very competitive," Biondo said.
Roustum played varsity football at Orchard Park for two years, as a starting defensive back and backup quarterback.
Several of his high school buddies exchanged instant messages with Roustum on Thursday night.
"He said he was going on a mission Friday, and he would try to get back to them on Saturday," Biondo said.
Before high school students and staff members observed a moment of silence for Roustum today, Farwell reminded them how difficult it is to understand the reasons for such grave events.
"However, during this holiday week, I suggest that we all put David and his loved ones in our thoughts and prayers," Farwell told the school.
"We have so much for which to be thankful, including having brave individuals such as David making extreme sacrifices for peace and freedom in the world."