Richard "Joe" Jordan hadn't walked the halls of Antioch Community High School for 14 years, but those who knew him say he was a natural born leader.
His family lives in Michigan and Kentucky, but his high school family on Thursday was mourning the loss of one of its most beloved graduates.
"He's that guy wherever you see, you gotta shake his hand. He's one of the most popular guys in our class," said classmate Karl Richter.
Jordan wore No. 10 during his four years on the high school football team.
"It was always about the team when he was here," said football coach Del Pechauer. "It was never about himself. [It was about] whatever he could do to help the team."
Despite not being the most-gifted athlete, his coaches said Jordan's impact at the school went way beyond the football field.
"He was the black student in the predominantly white school who's telling his perspective to this predominantly white audience," explained journalism advisor Mike Gordy of Jordan's popular column in the school paper.
"It's something that the kids here never would have gotten if it hadn't been for Joe," Gordy said.
Gordy recalled a conversation he had with Jordan just before he volunteered for another tour in Iraq.
"And I said, 'Why would you want to do something like this?' and his response was just -- and it just capsulizes Joe -- he said,'Well, because it's important."
The school's football team is planning to create an annual award in Jordan's name for good character.