Wounded Valley soldier finding healing in music

FRESNO, Calif.

U.S. Army Specialist Justin Lovelace's voice, notes from his guitar and his childhood friends are all keys to his recovery.

"There's still a little shrapnel and bullet fragments in there, but the healing progressed a lot," said SPC. Justin Lovelace.

The 26-year-old soldier was shot in the face in 2010, just two months before his year-long deployment in Afghanistan was set to end. "The bullet went all the way through and my arm was stuck in a position like that... I didn't know if I'd ever be able to sing again or talk or anything," Lovelace said.

But he was given a guitar while he recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. And by strumming some notes, he's been able to regain movement in his arm.

His father, Mark Lovelace, is amazed at his son's recovery. "We had a long year and a half," Mark Lovelace said. "There were times when we didn't think it would end. But things start progressing and you see a light at the end of the tunnel."

Doctors have used bone from Specialist Lovelace's leg to help rebuild his jaw and he's had several surgeries on his neck. He says his shoulder still hurts sometimes. But his passion for music helps push him through the pain.

"I didn't think I was going to make it," SPC. Lovelace said. "By God's grace I'm alive."

Lovelace will soon be released from his army duties at Fort Lewis in Washington State. That's when he hopes he and his childhood friends will take their band, The Bromby's, to Los Angeles to hopefully record an album.

"After that it just made me realize that we need to actually pursue this a lot harder and actually make this happen," said Lovelace's band mate Robert Christie.

Monday afternoon The Bromby's played for family and friends, including Army Specialist Ken Munoz.

SPC. Munoz is from Madera and served with SPC. Lovelace in Afghanistan. The two were part of the 2nd Battalion 4th Brigade 2/508 PIR. The unit was hard hit. According to Lovelace, of the 42 people in the group there were 21 casualties.

"It feels good to be back with family, friends and people you are really comfortable with," said SPC. Munoz.

Along with family, Lovelace is grateful to have his music and his health back.

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