Community, county to honor vet who died in combat

Published 9:03 am Friday, May 18, 2018

Members of the community and local government officials will gather on Saturday afternoon to honor a resident who gave his life for his country on the battlefield.

Family and friends of the late Gary Murray will be joined by county officials on Saturday, May 19, at 2 p.m. for a special ceremony dedicating a bridge in honor of Murray. If the weather is nice, the ceremony will take place at the bridge. In the event of inclement weather, the service will move to the picnic shed in the parking lot of Zion Baptist Church, which is close to the bridge.

Murray was born on August 5, 1946, to Arthur and Betty Murray, and grew up in the Gap Creek community.

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After graduating from Happy Valley High School in 1964, Murray enlisted in the U.S. Army and served his country with distinction, earning the rank of Specialist Fourth Class and serving as a medical NCO with the 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.

Murray was killed in action on May 24, 1967, in the Vietnam War during a battle with enemy forces in Pleiku Province in South Vietnam.

In February, members of the Carter County Commission voted to honor Murray and the sacrifice he made for his country by naming the bridge spanning Gap Creek at the intersection of Gap Creek Road and Marion Branch Road. On Saturday, during the ceremony, family and friends will unveil the signs erected proclaiming the bridge as the “Gary D. Murray Memorial Bridge.”

One of the individuals helping Murray’s family plan Saturday’s ceremony is Linda Johnson, who also grew up in the Gap Creek community and knew the Murray family.

“I had known Gary for years. He graduated the year before I did,” Johnson said. “I’ve known the family for years. His sister babysat me when I was little.”

Johnson recalls Murray joining the military and his death in combat and is pleased the county has decided to honor his life and sacrifice.

“He went right from high school into the service,” Johnson said. “He never had a chance to have a family, a career. He was never given the opportunities the rest of his family and friends had to live and enjoy his life.”

“I feel that anyone who gave their life to protect this nation deserves to be honored,” she added. “Gary made the ultimate sacrifice. The least we can do for him is to honor him with this bridge dedication.”