We are using the month of July to recognize some local men who served in World War II and made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to keep our country free.
Almost 300,000 American servicemen and women lost their lives during a war that came only 20 years after World War I. That war, ironically, had been called “the war to end all wars!”
During WWII, Trousdale County had 18 Gold Star families. A Gold Star posted in the window of a home indicated that the family has lost a family member to the war.
Our research (and please correct us if we are wrong) shows that the 18 Trousdale County men who died during the war were: Lewis Key, Charlie Scruggs, John Fisher, Jack Lovelady, James Dyer, Julian Seymore, Austin Smith, Richard Scoggins, Stanley Moore, Ottis Thomas, Leon Johns, James Cato, Cortez Beal, Charles Lee Burton, Wiseman Parkhurst, James Gregory, Aubrey Forkam and Vassie Coleman Burton. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The number was incorrectly reported as 20 in last week’s column that appeared in The Vidette.)
A few years ago through the efforts of Tommy Jones, the VFW and others, a nice marble monument was placed on Main Street to honor all of our county’s soldiers. The monument caused a bit of a stir at the time due to some names that were left off by accident and to how some were listed. Those mistakes were later corrected and today the monument sits proudly next to our new Community Center.
A soldier can be listed as “killed in action,” which means that they were killed in combat or as a result of warfare. However, soldiers can die in war-related activities but not actual combat. In that case, they may be listed as “killed in the line of duty.”
A few soldiers on the monument were listed as KIA when they had actually died as a result of accidents or illness during wartime service.
One of those names was that of Jack Lovelady.
Jack died during a flight mission over the Gulf of Mexico, not as a result of fighting but in line of duty.
Jack Lovelady was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lovelady, who lived on Harris Branch Road in Trousdale County. He had a sister, Josephine Lovelady.
Jack was assigned to the Naval Air Training Station in Kingsville, Texas. In February 1945, he was in one of four training planes that were sent out over the water in the Gulf of Mexico. Three of the planes returned to base – but Jack’s plane did not.
Immediately an aerial search was conducted, but no sign of the plane or its occupants was ever found.
As a result, Jack Lovelady was missing and presumed dead.
His death in the plane was unique because Jack was not part of the plane’s crew – he was a member of the ground crew.
A letter to the family from a member of Jack’s squadron explained. It said that Jack loved flying and looked for opportunities to be in the air. The letter also noted that Jack was well liked by his fellow sailors and in particular by his superior officers.
A consequence of his love for flying was that, during training missions and if he wasn’t on duty himself, Jack would ask if he could fly along. His character was such that he was welcomed to climb aboard and join the crew.
On the day of the accident, he had again asked if he could join his friends and fellow sailors and had been given the OK to do so – with tragic results.
According to the investigation, the plane with Jack aboard took off from the base with the others, but was never seen again.
There was no contact with the base, no distress signal or any indication of engine trouble. But it was the conclusion of a Board of Inquiry that the plane had probably encountered mechanical problems and gone down in the Gulf.
Seaman Second Class Jack Lovelady’s parents became a Gold Star family. Due to the circumstances of his death, Jack Lovelady’s family erected a monument in the Green Grove Cemetery as a memorial – a memorial over an empty grave.