Family serves country in military, at home

By Abby Morris

Star Staff

   For the Lunceford family who live in Carter County, service is a way of life since four members have careers that allow them to serve their state and nation.
   "My dad always volunteered with things like the Rescue Squad and the Sheriff's Department as a reserve officer," said Joe Lunceford, Jr., 32, who is a trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. "That's what first got me interested in law enforcement."
   Joe Lunceford, Sr. has been the constable in the fifth district of Carter County for 13 years.
   The Lunceford family also has two other sons who serve their country. Matt Lunceford, 29, is a deputy with the Carter County Sheriff's Department and works as the resource officer at Hampton High School. Sgt. John Lunceford, 31, is a member of the 776th Maintenance Company of the National Guard and was deployed Thursday heading to Ft. Campbell, Ky.
   John and Joe Lunceford, Jr. both served in the United States Marine Corps during Operation Desert Storm, the last time the 776th Maintenance Company was called to active duty.
   "My job kept me in the country though. I worked with the Marine security forces," Joe said. Security forces worked state-side during Desert Storm in anti-terrorist activities.
   John Lunceford was deployed overseas and spent seven months in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm. Though this is John's third deployment, Joe said it doesn't make seeing his brother leave any easier. "I said I wasn't going to cry and that's all I've done today."
   There was one aspect of John's deployment yesterday that was easier on the Lunceford family than when he was called to Kuwait.
   "I got to spend time with him before this deployment. When he left for the desert I only got to spend five minutes with him before he got on the bus," Joe said.
   Some members of the family did not even get to see John before his deployment in Desert Storm.
   John and Joe both spent four years in the Marines and each has spent six years in the National Guard as members of the 776th Maintenance Company. Joe's term ended this year, and he decided not to re-enlist, while John just recently sign up for another term.
   "That's what makes this so hard," Joe said while waving not only to his brother but also to his friends as they passed by in the convoy. "I used to be a part of this unit."
   As the convoy made its way down Elk Avenue and passed the place where the Lunceford family was standing to watch the soldiers depart, members of the company waved to Joe and laughed as they told him they still had room to take him with them.
   "I wish I could go with them, but people remind me that we need people here to take care of the homefront. People tell me that they need me here and that helps a little bit. Somebody has to mind the fort."
   Joe Lunceford, Sr., and Matt were a part of the law enforcement escort provided for the troops as they traveled through Elizabethton. As luck would have it, they were assigned to escort their brother John in the second section of the convoy.
   Matt said the hardest part of watching his brother leave is not knowing when they will see each other again.
   "It's hard knowing that they will be gone for awhile. You're in contact with them, but you don't know when you'll get to see them again," he said.