Local officer serves as Honor Guard

Published 5:08 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

One of Greenville’s finest got the opportunity to serve as Honor Guard at this year’s National Police Week.

Lieutenant Justin Lovvorn, of Greenville Police Department, fulfilled his duties as honor guard to the fullest extent, receiving five medals of distinction for flawlessly executing Honor Guard detail.

“You only are awarded medals if you perform all duties flawlessly,” Lovvorn explained. “An officer next to me got out of step once and they thanked him for his service, but did not award him a medal.”

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Lovvorn served as Honor Guard for the week, and also got the rare opportunity to serve as an escort for a family, an honor usually reserved for more experienced Honor Guard.

It’s serious and humbling work, Lovvorn said.

“You see how much these families are affected by their loss,” Lovvorn said. “You don’t always have the whole picture, even when it happens close to home.”

Lovvorn recalled the death of officer Gary Heath, who was shot in the line of duty in 1994. He was working dispatch.

“Heath’s death really had the most effect on me,” Lovvorn said. “It was the first time I saw or thought about what happens to an officer’s family. I wondered who was looking after them, not financially, but to just let them know that someone was still here.”

This moment served as an inspiration to Lovvorn. In the months and years that followed, Heath’s mother would serve as a reminder of the sacrifices those in law enforcement have made.

“Just because their officer is not with them anymore, doesn’t mean that the law enforcement community has left them out to dry,” Lovvorn said.

Lovvorn first got involved with Honor Guard eight years ago after attending the state Fraternal Order of Police conference.

“I got into it and got more and more involved, and now I’m involved in about every aspect of it,” Lovvorn said.

Since that day, he has tried recruiting other officers, but it’s a high task, he says.

“When it comes down to it, it’s a big commitment,” Lovvorn said. “It’s not just getting in a uniform once a year. Sometimes the families you meet will end up calling you four, five or six months later asking you for a favor. You can’t ignore them-you have to do what you have to do to make sure you or another Honor Guard can be there for them.”