Local News

July 11, 2013

Donation preserves memory of soldier killed in Vietnam War

CHATSWORTH — Maebell Cruse wanted to make sure that even after her own death, her son Gary Cruse and his sacrifice are never forgotten.

Cruse, 21, was shot and killed in a battle on Black Virgin Mountain in 1968 during the Vietnam War, his sister Kathy Burkett said.

Maebell Cruse, who died in August, and her family arranged for Cruse’s medals to be donated to and on permanent display at American Legion Post 167 in Chatsworth.

“We will keep alive Gary’s memory, as well as others from Murray County who have given their lives in service to our country,” said post member Bruce Kendrick, who presented the medals on behalf of the family to post commander Larry Morrison Tuesday night. “Maebell spent the last 45 years keeping his memory alive. ... We’ll always keep his name going.”

Cruse received a Silver Star, the third highest medal awarded by the military, Kendrick said, as well as several other medals, including three Purple Hearts. Cruse’s medals, which are encased with a folded American flag and a photo of him, will hang on a wall at the post along with other photos of men killed in combat and a plaque listing recipients of the Purple Heart.

Kendrick said it was important to Maebell Cruse that her son’s medals be on display in a place where veterans would see them and appreciate their meaning. Cruse’s name has already been included in the Veterans Memorial Park’s “Walk of Murray’s War Dead,” which lists the names of 300 Murray natives who died in war.

“We are honored to accept these on Gary’s behalf, and we’ll cherish them,” said Morrison, who was a friend of Cruse.

Cruse was drafted while a student at Murray County High School, and his mother fought to let him finish high school before entering the Army, Burkett said.

“He was so special,” she said, adding she had a strong bond with her brother, who was about six years older than her.

When he received his first check from the Army, he sent the money home to pay for needed dental care for his sister. He also bought his brother, Doug, a car with his pay.

“(Gary Cruse) had a ‘55 Chevrolet that didn’t have windshield wipers,” Burkett said. “I remember being out with him, and he got up to 100 mph trying to get home because it started raining.”

Cruse was a standout football player, and his friend Kensel Headrick said Cruse was one of the fastest to play at Murray County.

“He lived life the way he practiced sports — wide open,” Headrick recalled. “He was Mr. Popular. He had the personality and was a great athlete. He was also kindhearted. ... Gary wouldn’t take guff from anyone ... but he wouldn’t start anything either. If there was a bully in school, he would put an end to it.”

Those were qualities Cruse carried with him into the military, Headrick said.

For many years, the family was unaware of exactly how Cruse was killed. But a few years ago, they were able to meet with someone who was there when it happened.

Cruse was shot in the back of the head while covering other men in his unit so they could retreat to safety, Burkett said.


More information on Gary Cruse is available at murraycountymuseum.com. Click on “Vietnam War” at the top of the page and scroll down for the section on Cruse. The page also has information on the three other Murray County natives killed in Vietnam, Jimmy Cagle, Jerry Jordan and Raymond Beam.

Text Only
Local News
  • runner thompson.jpg Taking the race back

    Dean Thompson didn’t go 100 yards in his 26.2 miles through the streets of Boston without seeing people on the side of the road cheering for him.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bobby Lee Dixon mg.jpg Officials: Man jailed for driving toward officer

    A Chatsworth man who officials said accelerated a vehicle toward a law enforcement officer who was approaching on foot remains in the Murray County jail without bond.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Standoff 1 mlh.jpg Charges undetermined following standoff (Updated 5:45 p.m.)

    Police have yet to decide whether to press criminal charges against a man they say was armed and intoxicated while barricading himself in his office at a carpet mill in downtown Dalton Tuesday evening.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Man charged for using fraudulent Social Security card

    A man is being held in the Whitfield County Jail on multiple charges for using a fraudulent Social Security card with someone else’s Social Security number to land a job at a rug manufacturer in Dalton and for providing false information to receive workers’ compensation benefits, according to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation’s Enforcement Division.

    April 23, 2014

  • Standoff 1 mlh.jpg Police: Four-hour standoff ends with peaceful surrender

    A man who was armed with at least one firearm and believed to be under the influence of alcohol surrendered to police Tuesday night after barricading himself for four hours inside a carpet mill in downtown Dalton, officials said.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Murray deputy bit by drug dog while taking selfie

    A Murray County Sheriff’s Office deputy is recovering after one of the department’s drug dogs bit him in the face on Monday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Local wrestler ‘made everybody smile’

    Rash Renegade got his wrestling nickname after a motorcycle wreck several years ago left him with a bad case of road burn.

    April 23, 2014

  • Pinwheels in murray '14 1 mlh.jpg Awareness can prevent child abuse

    Three hundred forty-six pinwheels dotted the Murray County Courthouse lawn on Tuesday, representing 346 reported cases of child abuse in the county last year.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Murray library, regional system still far apart

    Murray County officials say they will announce soon if they will follow through with their plan to take the Chatsworth-Murray Library out of the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System.

    April 22, 2014

  • Fire believed to have started outside home

    Investigators are still working to learn what sparked a fire that nearly destroyed a house at 602 Top St. in Dalton on Monday.

    April 22, 2014