Three East Carolina University students who died serving their country were among the first memorialized during the Memorial Walk and Freedom Wall dedication. They were Capt. James R. Tant, U.S. Air Force, class of '65; 1st Lt. Frank L. Rice, U.S. Army, class of '67; and Sgt. David J. Smith, U.S. Marine Corps, class of '10.

• Capt. James R. Tant, U.S. Air Force
ECU class of ’65

Tant served in Vietnam and later flew C-140 cargo planes. He died in a crash in Bolivia in 1974.

At right, Tant (center) and fellow cadets Donald R. Joyner, left, and John W. McClenny,
right, receive flight instructions to determine whether they are qualified for future pilot training.

At left, Tant was photographed as an administrative officer of the Arnold Air Society at ECU. (Photos from the 1965 Buccaneer)


• 1st Lt. Frank L. Rice, U.S. Army

ECU class of ’67

Rice died in Cambodia in 1970 in a helicopter crash.

He is pictured, at right, in his role as vice president of the 1966 ECU Student Government Association, and in the photo below that, third row and third from right, as a member of the 1966 ECU baseball team, which won the Southern Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA District 3 tournament. (Photos from the 1967 Buccaneer)

• Sgt. David J. Smith, U.S. Marine Corps

ECU class of ’10

Smith died in Helmund Provence, Afghanistan in 2010 after a patrol unit was attacked by a suicide bomber. At right, he is pictured with his unit. Image courtesy of Freedom Remembered at

ECU-Sgt David J Smith
Below right, Vice President Joe Biden wipes his eyes as he talks with the Smith's family, from left, step father John Jones, father Dr. Leonard Smith, mother Mary Jane McWilliams, and step mother Olga Smith, at Smith's grave on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2010. Below left, a coin from Biden sits atop Smith's tomb. (AP Photos/Alex Brandon)

ECU-Biden, coin