Murt Seeks Families of Late Soldiers

The legislator is trying to coordinate individual memorials for seven area Vietnam veterans killed in the line of duty.

State Rep. Tom Murt is trying to right injustices dating back more than 40 years.

And, he’s seeking the public’s help in doing it.

Beginning last year, Murt (R-152), of Upper Moreland, set out to publicly recognize seven servicemen in his district who died in combat during the Vietnam War.

For , of Hatboro, Murt dedicated the bridge at Horsham and York roads in Lannon’s honor. 

For , of Upper Moreland, a tree was planted in his honor. 

“We’re trying to work with each individual’s family to put together recognition that the family’s comfortable with,” Murt told Patch. “It’s a project that’s long overdue. It’s tragic that none of these men have ever been recognized for their service, for their sacrifice.”

While most of the honorees’ families have been reached easily, Murt said he has been unable to track down the loved ones of Specialist 4 Robert Ruttle, formerly of Bon Air Avenue in Hatboro; Specialist 4 Ronald C. Smith of Hatboro; and First Lt. Robert R. Wright Jr. of Hatboro.

“We’re a little reticent to proceed until we talk tot he family,” Murt said. “We absolutely want them to participate in the dedication.” 

Before determining how and where the serviceman will be recognized, Murt said he sits down with family members to learn more about the individual’s life, where he grew up and perhaps a location near a childhood home, or a spot frequented that would make sense for a memorial.

Upcoming dedications

A road dedication is tentatively planned for a section of Maple Avenue in Horsham, which, pending approval by the Horsham Township Council, would boast signage dubbing it the Second Lt. James T. Kelly Memorial Highway.

Kelly lived on Holly Drive off of Maple Avenue and Murt said his parents and two of his nine siblings suggested the location. During the two-hour meeting, Murt shared how Kelly’s parents received a telegram from a pharmacy notifying them that their son had been killed.

“There were some tears,” Murt said. “Their sadness and their loss was still very close to the surface.”

Murt said he has reached out to Upper Moreland and Hatboro elected officials to see if it would be possible to have a section of Warminster Road between County Line and Byberry roads named in honor of Specialist 4 Harold Edward Cashman, who grew up nearby, on Corinthian Avenue in Hatboro.

“They jointly own that section of Warminster Road,” Murt said of the municipalities.

Hatboro Borough Manager Steven Plaugher confirmed that Murt submitted a letter requesting action from the governing body. Plaugher said it would be considered during the council's June 11 committee meeting. In order for it to move forward, Plaugher said both governing bodies would need to grant the ok. 

"It’s like an honorary thing," Plaugher said of the dedication. "We don’t actually change the name of the street."

The sign for Lannon’s bridge dedication was funded by a state grant, but, for the most part, Murt said he’s covered road sign and tree planting costs.

“This is all about the veterans,” said Murt, an Army reservist of 18 years and an Iraq War veteran. “We’ve never ever given our Vietnam veterans their due. This is a step toward that end.”

Following the Vietnam memorials, which Murt said he hopes to conclude in the next few months, the legislator said he would like to organize some sort of remembrances for residents of his district who died during the Korean War. 

“We think this is the very, very least that we can do for these brave men who served our country and gave their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Murt said. “I am very sorry and disappointed that they had to wait this long.”

To get involved

State Rep. Tom Murt is hoping to connect with the families of Specialist 4 Robert Ruttle, formerly of Bon Air Avenue in Hatboro; Specialist 4 Ronald C. Smith of Hatboro; and First Lt. Robert R. Wright Jr. of Hatboro. Families are asked to contact Murt’s district office in Hatboro at 215-674-3755.


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