Brian Piercy was a gifted student and Buchanan High School marching band drummer who went to Fresno Pacific University before deciding to go into the military.
Piercy, an Army staff sergeant who was only weeks from completing his second tour in Afghanistan, was killed Monday by an explosive device while patrolling near Kandahar.
He was remembered Wednesday by Buchanan principal Ricci Ulrich as a dedicated student.
She was principal of Alta Sierra Intermediate School, which is adjacent to Buchanan High, when Piercy and his brother Eric attended.
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"He was a brilliant kid and a very loving young man," Ulrich said. "I will remember him as being very kind and stellar in school."
And, the loss for Clovis Unified is compounded because Piercy's mother, Carolyn, is a teacher in the district.
Standing next to a memorial where the names of Buchanan's six other soldiers who died in action are inscribed, Ulrich said the school community is joining together.
"There is a real sense of wanting to comfort the family," she said.
The Clovis soldier was planning to move back to California from North Carolina with his wife, Christina, after his second tour ended, brother David Piercy said.
Brian Piercy was reserved until you got to know him, said Ricardo Flores, who stood with Piercy in the drumline in the Buchanan High School marching band.
"Once he finally let loose of that shyness, he was a good, fun person to be around," Flores said.
Clint Petty, who also graduated in the class of 2001, said Brian Piercy could have done whatever he wanted because of his academic abilities. "He definitely had us all beat academically," said Petty, who has a mechanical engineering degree from Fresno State.
Petty said he could see his friend in a leadership role in the military, even though it wasn't something he talked about in high school, because Piercy knew when to take care of business but also tried to "bring smiles to everyone's faces."