A Community of Service: Brandon Lovelady

Starkville Police Department Public Information Officer Brandon Lovelady holds one of his awards for service. Lovelady served in both Pakistan and Iraq. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
By: 
LOGAN KIRKLAND
Staff Writer

Starkville Police Department Public Information Officer Brandon Lovelady has dedicated his life to service.

As a younger man, he was influenced by his grandfather and father who both served in the armed forces.

“I’ve always looked up to my dad and my family members,” Lovelady said.

Lovelady said he needed some direction in his life, when an Army National Guard recruiter came and he was sold on joining the military.

Soon after, he was sent to basic training in 2001 and did military police school. He was eventually stationed in Pakistan in 2003.

“We just sat in post and watched the perimeter of that,” Lovelady said.

One of the parts he remembers the most is when he was stationed in Iraq. There, Lovelady’s mission was to make sure the police force in Iraq was trained and equipped to police their community.

“We’d go on patrols with them where
they would mix their vehicles inside of ours,” Lovelady said. “We’d patrol areas with them and things like that.”

Lovelady said even though his unit was not involved in the action like some groups, he did face some instances he won’t forget.

“We came across people wanting us dead, yeah,” Lovelady said. “Sometimes they tried.”

Lovelady received a combat action badge after a vehicle he was in was immobilized by a grenade attack. He said he has been in two situations where something has happened to his vehicle.

“The Lord was looking out for me because it blew up under my truck instead of on top of it,” Lovelady said.

Another constant fear he and his crew faced were the detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, when they were transporting to the Iraqi police stations.

He said people would receive notifications of IED explosions in the news, so there was this idea it happened every so often, but in reality they were happening almost every single day. The vehicles would have attachments to help detonate the explosives before the car reached the IED.

“I remember a time we drove right over some wires that we didn’t see until we were right over the top of them,” Lovelady said.

“That wasn’t extremely abnormal to roll up and find something before it blew up.”

TRANSITION

Lovelady said coming back to the United States can be a difficult task for many veterans who serve overseas. He said when serving, soldiers are a tiny piece in a giant puzzle.

“The thing is it feels like the world stops,” Lovelady said. “ I can’t put my hands on it like it’s real.”

He said when a soldier leaves, life continues without you. He said you come back to a complete change that’s hard to describe because you’re not right in the middle of it. For Lovelady, he didn’t see his son, Jace until he was four months old.

For Lovelady, coming home wasn’t tough, but it wasn’t easy. “You come home and your life changed,” Lovelady said. “Nothing prepares you for that.”

THE FLAG & SERVICE

One thing Lovelady is proud of is the camaraderie with those he served with.

“I’ll never forget the people I did that with, because you’re like family,” Lovelady said.

When he sees the United States flag, he said it is hard to put into words how it makes him feel. He said he feels a sense of pride and sometimes tears up.

“It’s a constant reminder of the brothers and sisters living and the ones who have passed away,” Lovelady said. “They did it for humanity under that flag.”

Although Lovelady is no longer severing in the armed services, he still has found a way to serve his community by being a police officer for Starkville.

He said serving makes him feel like he is a part of something bigger than himself.

“That’s why I enjoy being a police officer,” Lovelady said. “You go from doing what you can for your country to doing what you can for your community.”

Lovelady said when he was serving he did it for those in the country, but more importantly he served for his wife Emily McMurray Lovelady and his son Jace Lovelady.

“I’m trying to make it better for everybody who comes after me,” Lovelady said. ”I’m doing this for my family, my children and my children’s children.”

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