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Lulans are proud of their veterans from past wars

POSTED: June 21, 2009 1:00 a.m.

For Lula being no bigger than it is, the east Hall County town has supplied its country with more than its share of military heroes.

A veterans park is under construction at the corner of Main and Athens streets to honor military veterans. Families or friends can purchase bricks to have veterans' names inscribed in the park, which also will feature an interactive water fountain children can play in.

Lula's PFC Johnathon Millican died in Iraq in 2007, and the town just last week buried Maj. Kevin Jenrette, who died June 4 in Afghanistan.

Others in the Lula area have sacrificed for their country and no doubt will be further memorialized in the veterans park.

One of the town's most notable World War II heroes was Denver Truelove, who died at age 24 when his plane crashed off Sicily during a raid over Italy. He had been a bombardier on a B-25 that took part in the famous Jimmy Doolittle raids over Tokyo. Truelove was one of only 80 airmen selected for that mission.

When he returned home after the raids over Japan, Lula honored him with a parade. He earned a promotion, numerous medals and was reassigned to the European Theater. After his plane went down, Truelove was listed as missing for a year before the military declared him dead.

Pvt. Maudie Miller was in the Army only six months during World War I before he died in France. He arrived at Camp Gordon near Augusta in April 1918. Thirteen days later, he was at a camp in New York for a short time before boarding a ship for overseas duty, arriving June 14. He trained for a few weeks before being sent to the front Sept. 1.

Miller died after being wounded Oct. 20, less than three weeks before the Great War, as it was called then, ended.

While in service only a short time, Maudie mailed 45 letters back home to family in Lula. He wished for home. "Guess you are busy gathering your crops," he wrote in one letter." Would like to be there to help you all. Hope you will make a good crop."

He reported on the Allies' success against the Germans. "Guess you have seen in the paper what they have done and still have the Germans on the run ..." he said in one letter. "Our regiment is lucky so far. We have lost but very few men ... Tell Momma not to worry about me. I will not hurt myself unless I do accidentally. I am not in very much danger. I am so far back of the front lines." Maudie served in a field artillery unit.

He carried a copy of the New Testament of the Holy Bible to the war. "I have read my Testament through twice since I have been over here," he wrote home. "I haven't been very uneasy, yet I feel like the Lord will protect me if it is his will."

While Maudie had been in the Army only six months before he died, his parents, Eli and Emily Miller, had to wait almost three years before his body was returned to Lula for burial. His New Testament was among his belongings. He had circled a passage from John 15, verse 13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Not aware that Maudie had marked that Scripture, the Rev. P.M. Webb quoted it at his funeral.

The Millers had a monument that depicted Maudie in his Army uniform placed at his grave at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Before he died, Maudie's brother Henry Miller, had it restored after vandals damaged it.

(Excerpts from a column by Phil Hudgins, senior editor of Community Newspapers Inc., and a former Times editor, are included in the above article. Phil's wife, Shirley, is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Miller.)

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times and can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle N.E., Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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