Brookhaven native serves country, raises family
Published 8:02 am Saturday, November 11, 2023
BROOKHAVEN — Ole Brook alumni Ronnie McNulty was born and raised in Brookhaven and was a member of the 2004 State Championship team. The highlight and saving grace of his life was joining the military.
McNulty said his family has a tradition of serving in the military. His grandfather was in the army, an uncle served in the Navy, one brother joined the marines and another brother is a pilot for the United States Air Force.
His birthday is on Veterans Day so it always seemed like he was destined to serve, he said. Like many young veterans, the first call to serve came during 9/11 and the aftermath. He remembers being in his ninth grade history class when the towers fell and felt a strong desire to serve.
McNulty had football scholarships to play in college so he delayed his enrollment in the service. He played football at Co-Lin and graduated.
Ultimately, bad things started to happen in his neighborhood. Crime and violence took the lives of some of his friends or sent them to prison. He had to get out and the military offered a way to better his situation.
“I wanted my children to have something that they could be proud of. I spoke with my oldest brother one night and he told me to write down all the pros and cons of joining. The pros outweighed the cons,” McNulty said. “I did it for my family to provide and for my sons to have something to look up to. I wanted them to show what right looks like.It is all worth it when you have a purpose.”
Turns out, he is really good at what he does whether it be working with EOD or recruitment. The military has trained him well and made him proficient at whatever they ask him to do. .
His brothers Lorenzeo McNulty and Deadrian McNulty set an example by joining the military before him. It may have had the biggest impact on his young life.
“I thank God my brothers made the decision early. They saw what would happen and things would get bad and set a standard for me,” McNulty said. “They are my heroes. Their decision made me want to be like them. Our mom worked hard when our step dad passed away. It forced us to either swim or drown and we all chose to move away and fight for our country. It is working out.”
He joined the Army and has stuck with them for 11 years now. He has served in Honolulu, Hawaii, Japan, Guam, Florida at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal school and now Texas.
The benefits, teamwork and professional environment is all worth the time spent away from family. McNulty now serves as a recruiter on mission in the Dallas Fort Worth Area which has given him more time to be with his family. It has been a while since he has returned home to Brookhaven but he looks forward to returning on the holidays.
McNulty was recently promoted to Sergeant First Class. He said recruiting is a way for him to give back to the community. Military service changed his life and a lot of young children in this generation need the military.
“It takes courage to serve. I try to find out who wants to serve and who doesn’t when recruiting,” McNulty said. “I want to serve alongside those who want to serve. I love it. I’m able to serve and give and speak my truth and hope it will change lives. I take pride in it.”
Recruitment allows him to make his own schedule but at the same time the mission is the mission. It comes before anything else.
Military service is a great opportunity to meet and work with people from all across the United States. High School students are sometimes thrust into real life after graduation and the military can give them real life skills with outstanding training.
His work is rewarding and challenging, he said. The reward comes after recruits join the military and reach out to him months or years down the road.
“They reach out and thank you for being honest and up front and helping me,” McNulty said.
While his service can be demanding at times, he has a phenomenal support system. This allows him to balance a military career with a healthy family. He has two daughters and two sons.
His son Dramarian is 21 and playing football at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Reese McNulty is 14, and his daughters are Violet and Rose. He calls the daughters the “Rockstars,” of his family.
“My wife is God fearing and smarter than me. She does well with balancing everything behind the scenes. My kids, I have to be in the moment with them,” McNulty said. “At any given time I could be gone and deployed somewhere. I know in the moments I have to be present and concisely intentional to spend time with them. We go for walks or play at the park.”
Life after service
Once McNulty joined the military his perception of Veteran’s day changed. He said he likes to reflect back on the people who came before him and his family who had served.
“We go to cemeteries on Veterans Day and pay our respects. We make sure we are intentional,” McNulty said. “Freedom isn’t free. It is important to remember them.”
He plans on serving until he can’t anymore. The military is his career but he does have dreams of coaching football at the high school level one day.
Ole Brook Head Coach Tucker Peavey was McNulty’s coach and some of the lessons he learned during his high school days have stuck with him.
“I’m a server. It would be wonderful for me to serve, change lives and put positivity in lives,” McNulty said. “I plan on serving 20 years and reaching the rank of Sergeant Major. I would then like to retire and go to coaching. I have played football since I was a little boy and I have always loved it. I am a cowboys fan. It isn’t just a sport. It teaches discipline and you can learn life long lessons. One of Tucker’s big things was honor and integrity. When I’m about and about I still hear those words.”
He hopes his story will motivate others to join the military, especially anyone stuck in a situation similar to his.
“You can do anything you want to do. Keep God first, keep a positive attitude and do the work. Take the first step first and the opportunities will be endless,” McNulty said. “If I can do it, anyone can. Whether it be to achieve a goal. Do the small things. We can all look in the world and try to make the world better.”