On duty at the Citadel Country Spirit USA concert in Ludwig’s Corner this past weekend, a Chester County deputy sheriff initially thought the person with whom he was chatting was joking.
Deputy Sheriff Matthew “Jamie’ Mendenhall was giving Nero, his K-9 partner, some exercise when a man initiated a conversation about the importance of K-9s and the dangers inherent in law enforcement these days. The man subsequently introduced himself as Doug Paisley, the father of country superstar Brad Paisley, who was performing on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018.
“I was so stunned that I didn’t say anything at first,” said Mendenhall. “I’m a huge Brad Paisley fan.”
Mendenhall soon realized that Doug Paisley’s ID was genuine, and the two continued their discussion. The deputy noted the personal significance of the topic. He explained that two area K-9 handlers had lost their lives tragically in the line of duty in recent years: Plymouth Township Police Officer Bradley Fox and Berks County Deputy Sheriff Kyle Pagerly. Mendenhall, who came to Chester County from the Berks County Sheriff’s Office, had supervised Pagerly in the K-9 Unit there, making his death particularly tough to bear.
So when Doug Paisley asked if Mendenhall could supply photos of the two fallen heroes so that his son could pay tribute to them during his performance, Mendenhall was thrilled to assist. But Doug Paisley didn’t stop there; he also wondered if Mendenhall wanted tickets to the concert.
Reinforcing the magnitude of Doug Paisley’s generosity, Mendenhall told him that the Pagerlys were both huge fans of his son. In fact, Pagerly’s special song for his wife, Alecia, was Paisley’s “She’s Everything.” Then Mendenhall contacted Alecia Pagerly to let her know that “Brad Paisley’s dad says hello” and see if she wanted to come to the concert.
Continuing the day’s fortuitous path, Alecia Pagerly recovered from the shock and arrived 15 minutes before Paisley took the stage -- the first time she had seen him live. Paisley’s evocative performance brought her to tears. Paisley sang “When I Get Where I’m Going” in front of a giant projection showing Pagerly and Fox and their respective K-9 partners, Jynx and Nick. The country icon also performed Kyle Pagerly’s anthem to his wife. According to Doug Paisley, that song was added and had not been on the original play list.
Another poignant moment occurred for Alecia Pagerly when she reconnected with Chester County Sgt. Paul Bryant Jr., who was also on duty at the music festival. She hadn’t seen Bryant since the day her late husband graduated from the Philadelphia Police K-9 Academy, where the sergeant had previously worked.
For Mendenhall, the day kept on giving. “I was in awe that I got to talk to Brad Paisley’s dad,” said Mendenhall. “The rest of it was just unbelievable.”
Mendenhall said he got the final evidence that the day’s activities were simply “meant to be” when he was unable to leave the concert grounds. The reason? His vehicle was blocked in by a school bus bearing the number 27.
“That was Kyle’s badge number,” Mendenhall said, shaking his head.
For more information on Deputy Pagerly, visit https://kylepagerlymemorial.com.
Photo: Chester County Deputy Sheriff Matthew ‘Jamie’ Mendenhall is shown with Doug Paisley, the father of county music superstar Brad Paisley.