COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- One after another, the speakers at Lt. Col. Roy Lin Tisdale's funeral tried to boil the fallen Fort Bragg battalion commander down to a single word.
Soldier. Father. Commander. Men like Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson used more than two dozen nouns to describe Tisdale, who was killed a week earlier, on June 28, on Fort Bragg.
They described a man dedicated to his family, committed to his soldiers and willing to risk everything for his country.
Anderson, who marked his retirement from the 18th Airborne Corps in a ceremony last month, reeled off his list twice during a speech at Central Baptist Church. It wasn't until the very end that he seemed to settle on a term.
"A great American," he said.
Tisdale, 42, of Alvin, Texas, received a hero's sendoff on Thursday in the city where he spent his college years at Texas A&M University.
Outside the church, more than 500 current students gathered to pay their respects and stand their ground against a protest that was supposedly planned for the funeral by an infamous religious group.
Inside, hundreds more surrounded the Tisdale family, including former classmates and soldiers from across the globe, including Fort Bragg and Germany.
And as the funeral procession made its way to a city cemetery just off campus, even more students gathered by the roadside to wave American flags and salute.
Tisdale died on Fort Bragg last week. According to officials, he was fatally shot during a safety briefing ahead of the long weekend.
The shooter, Spc. Ricky Elder of Hutchinson, Kan., then turned his gun on himself, officials said. He later died.
Commander of the 525th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Tisdale left behind a wife, Kim, and two children, Megan and Lane.
On Thursday, he was praised by a Texas state senator, Anderson, a former classmate and a former mentor.
They described him as a country boy who defined the values the military holds dearest.
"He did his duty, and he did it very well," said Anderson, who would later escort Tisdale's widow to the graveside. "Roy Tisdale served and sacrificed for his friends and his unit."
Tisdale, a two-time veteran of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was laid to rest with full military honors in the Aggie Field of Honor, a section of the relatively new city cemetery devoted to those with A&M connections.
There, too, hundreds of current students and dozens of members of the Patriot Guard stood at attention.
Virtually none of the students knew Tisdale or had even heard his name before they learned of his death. But they turned out in droves after word spread that a group of protesters from Westboro Baptist Church might have been on their way.
"We're all here for the family," said Lilly McAlister, one of the group's organizers. "I didn't know him personally. It's just a matter of showing support for the family, for the soldier."
Similar scenes have taken place all week, those who spoke at the service said.
When Tisdale's body arrived in Texas on Wednesday, Independence Day, scores of Patriot Guard riders and other supporters escorted him into town and lined the road in reverence.
Lt. Col. Steven Ruth, a classmate of Tisdale's, said he asked one woman on the side of the road why she was there, since she had never even met Tisdale.
"He's a son of Aggieland," Ruth said the woman told him. "There are no strangers on this road."