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Poplarville says goodbye to Sgt. Brown

Funeral services were held at Hart’s Chapel Baptist Church in Poplarville for Sgt. Lerando Brown on Wednesday. Brown was buried with honors at Biloxi National Cemetery.

Brown was a member of the 288th Sapper Company of the Army National Guard based out of Houston, Miss. He was killed in the line of duty in Balad, Iraq, on Saturday, March 15. He is the second Pearl River County soldier to be killed while deployed to Iraq.

During the service, Mississippi’s Adjutant General, Major Gen. Harold Cross, presented the family with the Mississippi Magnolia Cross, saying that Brown’s “strong and unyielding allegiance to the nation showed his true patriotism.”

Cross said he had been with the 288th Sapper Company in Iraq at Christmas, and he knew that Brown was a true hero in ever sense of the word.

“These soldiers know what a hero is because they raise their hands when others would not. (They say) Lord send me, here I am,” Cross said. “With every mission, they become and remain heroes, warriors, and soldiers… God gives us soldiers to protect our freedom. We would not be here without brave men like Sgt. Brown.”

Brown’s father-in-law, Rev. Jimmie Richardson, performed the eulogy, and recalled the time that Brown asked him if he could marry his daughter, Candice.

“Lerando was very adamant about serving his country. I counseled them both about the possibility that he may not come back. He looked at me and said, ‘Reverend, I want to serve my country, and I want to marry your daughter before I leave because I love her’,” Richardson said.

Richardson said Brown knew the dangers of serving his country, but that he wanted to make his mark on the world, and make life better for his wife and children.

After the service, Cross said his prayers were with Brown’s family.

“Our hearts are saddened by the loss of another soldier. He was a brave warrior who laid down his life while defending his country. Our prayers will always be with the family, and also with the soldiers still in harm’s way. We are very grateful for the city of Poplarville and the surrounding areas for turning out in grief and honor for one of our warriors. Today, the Mississippi National Guard has 742 soldiers and airmen in 16 separate countries standing post to protect our freedoms. We can never discharge the debt we owe them, but we can always acknowledge what they have done for us,” Cross said.

Poplarville Mayor Billy Spiers was also pleased with the turnout in support of Brown and his family.

“We’ve lost a friend and a hero… This family lost a loved one. The city lost a loved one. The country lost a loved one. He stood for what was right. What else can you say?” Spiers said.

Brown was 27 years old. He is survived by his wife of 10 months, Candice; two sons, Dequincy Brown and Cordell Richardson; his parents, Ronald Brown and Ira Fairley; two sisters, Crystal Brown and Yolanda Fairley; one brother, Josica Brown; his grandparents, Miller and Hezekiah Fairley; his in-laws, Rev. Jimmie and Janie Richardson; and numerous cousins, friends and relatives.

Active pallbearers were members of the United States Honor Guard. Honorary pallbearers included Josica Brown, Sgt. Benny Jarvis, Carlos Bell, Chase Richardson, Chandler Richardson, and J.J. Richardson.