Texan killed in attack a family man, loved Africa

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Associated Press

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 8:02 AM

NEDERLAND, Texas (AP) — Erin Lovelady had to teach her father how to put on his Christmas present, a sterling silver bracelet, so that he could do it himself when he was working in a remote natural gas facility in the Algerian desert.

On Tuesday, she remembered that moment with tears and laughter. Her father, Victor Lovelady, was one of three Americans killed in a militant raid last week.

"Now I look back and it was really wonderful," Lovelady told reporters at her uncle's home in Nederland, the Southeast Texas town where her father grew up and raised her and her brother.

Lovelady, 57, left Jan. 7 for his second stint in Algeria, where he did contract work for BP PLC. The Ain Amenas plant in the Sahara Desert was attacked by al-Qaida-affiliated militants last week, which prompted a bloody four-day standoff. A total of 37 hostages were killed, and five remain missing.

Before Saturday morning, the Loveladys still believed Victor would be brought safely home. They had been assured by U.S. government officials and the FBI that he was alive.

That belief was shattered when they were brought to a local FBI bureau, where officials told the family that they feared the worst. By 3 a.m. Monday, Lovelady's brother was on the phone describing his brother's features so the body could be identified.

"I can understand a car wreck. I can understand cancer. I can't understand terrorism," the brother, Mike Lovelady said from his living room sofa. "It was senseless. People trying to make a living for their family. They did nothing wrong. It was just not fair ... He didn't deserve this. None of the people that died deserved it."

More than 700 people work at the Algerian plant, which is jointly run by BP, Norway's Statoil and the Algerian state oil company. It is some 800 miles from the coast, and there are few population centers nearby. Some 130 foreigners from 26 countries worked at the facility. Most escaped the militants, who singled out foreigners and wrapped them with explosives to use as human shields.

The Loveladys say they still don't have details on how or when Victor was killed, but Mike Lovelady said he is determined to uncover the details. Angry that the U.S. was not allowed to participate in the raid to free the hostages and at the terrorism he said has taken over the world, Mike Lovelady vowed to press Congress to fight terrorists.

"The anger will go away someday," he said.

Lovelady's daughter, meanwhile, is also angry. Her father, she said, took the job in Algeria knowing it would give him one-month blocks of time off to spend with his family.

He told her to get her passport to prepare for a family vacation in Belize this summer. She said he took the job in Africa — a continent he fell in love with after going on a two-week hunting trip — believing it was safe.

Now, that is one of the many things that haunt her.

"He made us feel like he was very safe, and he felt very safe," she said. "I'm sure he was blindsided."

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Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP

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