POPLARVILLE (WLOX) -- A black ribbon posted on a mail box signifies the grief inside the Poplarville home of the Brown family.
"I done lost someone that I truly loved," said Sgt. Lerando Brown's wife, Candice.
The two married about a month before he was deployed to Iraq.
"There's a hole in my heart, cause I feel like I've lost my best friend," Candice said.
On Saturday, Candice, her mother and father were at the city park planning a July family reunion when they learned two men from the Army were at the house to see Candice.
The horrible news came with few details. Sergeant Brown was in Balad, north of Baghdad, and died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Candice had talked to her husband just hours before his death.
"We talked because he wanted to know how I was doing, how I was feeling, cause I had a doctor's appointment the day before and he wanted to know how everything went. And we talked about that and he told me, 'Alright, I'll talk to you later. Love you," and he hung up."
Brown was with the National Guard's 288th Sapper Company based in Houston, Mississippi.
"We watch the news and we always hear about the casualties and pray for the families, but when it's your own family, it really hits home," Brown's father-in-law Jimmy Richardson said.
Brown's family said he wanted to go to Iraq to serve the country he loved. But his death has left his wife questioning the sacrifice.
"I still don't understand what they're over there fighting for. He'd always say 'for our freedom,' so it just don't make no sense to me. It tears me up inside, cause I thought we were going to have a lifetime of memories," Candice said. "He still lives in my heart, always and forever."
Sergeant Lerando Brown is at least the 60th soldier with strong ties to Mississippi to die in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last five years. Sergeant Brown leaves behind two young sons.
Funeral services will be held next Wednesday at the Hart's Chapel Baptist Church on Dupont-Harts Chapel Road in Poplarville. Visitation is at 10am, with the funeral service at noon.