DONALD J CRUDEN - SSGT
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- March 25, 1931
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- December 27, 1967
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Donald J. Cruden was born on March 25, 1931. His home of record is Bayonne, NJ. Donald graduated from Bayonne High School in 1948.
Cruden first enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1948, when he was 17 years old, and served in Korea. After being wounded in Korea and receiving the Purple Heart , he left the Marine Corps only to re-enlist a short time later. Cruden was sent a draft notice but instead re-enlisted so he could retire from the Marine Corps in four years with a 20-year pension. He also served in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, and aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal. He served as an instructor at Camp Lejeune before he left for Vietnam. He arrived in Vietnam on August 14, 1967 and had attained the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSGT).
According to his mother, Mrs. Lillian Alexander, "He wanted to become an electrician when he got out so he could have a nice home for his family."
A telegram from the Marine Corps told Mrs. Alexander that on December 27, 1967, her son had been shot in the chest while participating in a massive helicopter assault near Quang Tri. He was killed instantly. Cruden was a platoon leader with L Company of the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade. This was the second tragedy for Mrs. Alexander. Her first husband and Donald's father, Stewart Cruden, was killed in a submarine while serving with the British merchant marines just before the outbreak of World War II.
Cruden was a member of the Catholic War Veterans Post 155 in Bayonne and of St. Vincent's Parish. A requiem mass was held at St. Vincent's Church. He is buried in Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City.
Cruden was awarded the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, the Sharpshooter Medal, and Republic of Korea Presidential Citation.
At the age of 36, he left behind a wife, Carol Feeney Cruden, a registered nurse, two sons, Daniel and Michael, and a daughter Sally Ann born on October 3, 1967, while he was in Vietnam. Donald never saw Sally Ann in person, just in pictures he received before his death.
Donald's oldest son, Daniel enlisted in the Marine Corps to follow in his father's footsteps, but did not make it a career. Michael is very active in Vietnam Veterans of America and serves in their Color Guard. His daughter, Sally Ann Cruden Walker, bears a very strong resemblance to the father she never met.
Sources: Carol R. Cruden (widow) and NJVVMF.
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