Man prepares for third deployment overseas

Published 12:04 am Sunday, June 3, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Staff Sgt. Bob Loyed Lively, center, hugs his wife, Danielle, right, and his foster mother, Charlene Rushing, left, after walking into his surprise birthday and deployment party Saturday afternoon at Rushing’s home. Lively will head to Kuwait for his third deployment in the Army before the end of June.

VIDALIA — Families stick together. Just ask the Loyed siblings.

The seven brothers and sisters had to find ways to keep connected with each other after their parents died in a car wreck in the 1980s. Some of the siblings were old enough to be independent, some went into foster care and some were adopted.

But they stuck together, and Saturday, five of them gathered in Vidalia to show support for the sixth of seven, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bob Loyed Lively, who will be deployed to Kuwait in the near future and will likely be spending his birthday overseas. This is his third deployment.

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Staff Sgt. Bob Loyed Lively shakes hands with his brother-in-law Jason Exelby, left, Saturday.

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“Every time is a little harder,” brother Tommy Loyed said. “Every day you get up and every night you say a prayer, and when you think of him you say another prayer.”

Bob’s oldest sister, Lisa Loyed Swinny, echoed Tommy’s sentiments.

“The last time he was deployed, we went to Georgia to see him off, and that was very difficult,” she said. “We just say our prayers and hope God brings him back.”

Danielle Lively, Bob’s wife, said being a military spouse can be tough, and that while her husband is gone their children — they have eight — keep her busy.

“Thank goodness we have Skype and computers now,” she said. “I don’t know how we’d do it without them.”

The family gathering was a surprise for Bob, who said deployment is never easy.

“It’s kind of hard leaving my wife with all the kids, but it is something I signed up to do,” he said. “I reenlisted because I enjoy what I am doing for my country, but I am not raising my hand and saying, ‘Send me.’ It makes it a lot easier when everybody shows up and shows their support.”

But supporting the family comes natural for the Loyed siblings, even if they didn’t get to have a traditional family experience —  and perhaps because of it.

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Nancy Hungerford, the director of the Natchez Children’s Home, left, talks to siblings Tommy Loyed, center left, Lisa Loyed Swinny, center right, and Staff Sgt. Bob Loyed Lively at Bob’s surprise birthday and deployment party Saturday afternoon at Charlene and Kenny Rushing’s home. Charlene and Kenny were Bob's foster parents.

Saturday’s gathering was at the home of Charlene and Kenny Rushing, who were Bob’s foster parents from age 4 to 6. Another sibling, Bill, was adopted, and two sisters, Nancy and Brenda, were also placed in foster care.

Throughout it all, the Natchez Children’s Home made sure the family kept connected, Tommy — the oldest — said, and as they bantered back and forth Saturday, the brothers and sisters asked not only about each other’s lives but also discussed the lives of their extended foster and adoptive families.

“Now, we have all become one blended family,” Lisa said.

Charlene Rushing said that while Bob lived with her for only a couple of years — he was eventually placed with one of his biological relatives — she loved him like a son and considered all of his siblings family.

“I am really proud of (Bob),” she said. “He is a fantastic dad, a great husband and a hard worker. And I am proud of all the kids, because they have stayed together, and stayed closer than many families.”

Natchez Children’s Home Executive Director Nancy Hungerford also attended the party and said seeing the siblings grown and still connected is part of why she has worked with the children’s home for the last 30 years.

“We plant a lot of seeds in families that need help, and I don’t always get to see all the blooms, but coming to something like this I get to see a family that has survived and thrived and stayed together,” she said.

Bob has been in the Army for 13 years.

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Staff Sgt. Bob Loyed Lively, center, talks to family and friends after arriving at the surprise birthday and deployment party held in his honor at Charlene and Kenny Rushing's home. Loyed Lively deploys for the third time to Kuwait before the end of June.